North

Festive fight to keep Tuktoyaktuk's ice road open in its final season

Contractors spent Christmas Day working to reopen Tuktoyaktuk's ice road after ocean overflow - a problem the forthcoming all-weather highway should solve.

Ocean overflows cause temporary closure at 'very busy' time

Three detours have been established to lead drivers away from areas where northwesterly winds drove seawater onto the ice surface. (David Thurton/CBC)

Workers on the Arctic coast spent Christmas Day carving detours, not turkeys, after ocean overflow closed the Tuktoyaktuk ice road.

Travellers heading to or from the coastal community for the festive season faced closures on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Three detours have been established to lead drivers away from areas where northwesterly winds drove seawater onto the ice surface.

"On Christmas Day, one big overflow was up to a foot deep all across the width of the road," said Arvind Vashishtha, the Department of Transportation's acting regional superintendent in Inuvik.

While the road has reopened, the department warns further closures are possible and urges travellers to follow instructions on local signage.

With the expected completion of the all-weather Inuvik-Tuk highway in 2017, this should be the last holiday season disrupted in this fashion.
Crews connected the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway in the middle in April 2016. (submitted by GNWT Department of Transportation)

The department says its new $229 million highway, stretching 120 km between the communities, will not be susceptible to overflow in the same way as the ice road it replaces.

"During Christmas, many people go to Tuktoyaktuk from Inuvik to visit relatives. It's a very busy time," said Vashishtha, who paid tribute to the road's contractors — and their sacrificed Christmas dinners.

"They are doing a good job keeping the road open and safe," he said.

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