Some N.W.T. grocery stores affected by full closure of Dempster Highway in the Yukon

The Eagle River Bridge is undergoing emergency repairs — a temporary fix that will take at least three more days to complete. In the meantime, some affected N.W.T. grocery stores are arranging for food to be flown in.

Emergency repairs will take several days. In meantime some stores are arranging for food to be flown in

Near-bare shelves at a grocery store.
The Northmart grocery store in Inuvik, N.W.T., saw items like milk, eggs, bananas and onions run low on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022 due to a full closure of the Dempster Highway in the Yukon. (Karli Zschogner/CBC)

Traffic along the Dempster Highway came to a complete standstill over the weekend after an accident caused damage to the Eagle River Bridge — and it's causing some shortages of fresh produce in a few Northwest Territories stores.

The highway is the only road link to the rest of Canada for communities in the Beaufort-Delta region of the N.W.T. The closure is currently affecting some grocery stores in the region, like Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtchic, Inuvik, and Tuktoyaktuk.

Items like milk, eggs, and onions were in short supply on Wednesday at the Inuvik Northmart.

Joseph Guy, the store manager, said the Northmart normally gets trucked shipments on Mondays and Fridays. Guy said that, with the road closed, an air shipment of food has been organized for Wednesday afternoon.

"We had to reroute our freight back to Whitehorse and … they're gonna fly up the perishables on a plane. So at least we have something here in the store for the customers."

Guy said if the closure continues food will likely be flown in from Yellowknife.

Northern Store manager Chris Wong in Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., said there are also arrangements for items to be flown in, but for the time being, he said shelves are stocked.

"We're in good shape now," he said. "We got no problems."

Irena Dadurkeviciene, who works at the Northern Store in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., said the store expects a truck from Yellowknife soon, which came up from Edmonton.

"We'll see how it will be," she said. "For now, it will be delayed by one day our delivery, but let's hope by the end of the day we will get our freight."

She said the store is doing fine for now in terms of supply, as it normally only gets one delivery a week.

Vehicle collision damaged bridge

The closure of the Dempster Highway in the Yukon, south of the N.W.T. border, will last at least three more days as crews work to repair structural damage to the Eagle River Bridge.

In a Facebook post that has been updated several times, Yukon Highways and Public Works said a vehicle collided with the bridge on Saturday.

There were no reported injuries.

The latest update Tuesday described the repairs as a "temporary solution." It said the timeline for the repairs are "subject to conditions onsite."

While crews were allowing limited crossings Tuesday for travellers who were stranded on the highway as a result of the closure, the bridge fully closed to traffic Tuesday night.

It is now closed in both directions to all traffic. No vehicles will be allowed to cross while repairs are underway, and the territory is asking people not to travel in the area at this time.

Once the repairs are completed, workers will need to test the bridge to determine how much weight it can hold and when it will be safe for traffic to cross.

The latest information can be found at Yukon 511, by dialling 511 or checking @511Yukon on Twitter.

The bridge is just north of Eagle Plains, Yukon, and about 90 kilometres south of the Yukon-N.W.T. border.

With files from Karli Zschogner