The Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road Joint Venture is proceeding as scheduled this year despite milder weather.
The construction of the winter road began on Dec. 15. It is scheduled to be open on Jan. 31 and will close on Mar. 31, which is consistent with the previous year.
Barry Henkel, director of winter road operations, said that recent weather patterns are to be expected and do not impede the ability to create the 575-km road.
“We’re really not facing any problems,” he said. “It’s a normal weather pattern which we deal with every year. The weather goes anywhere from the mid-teens to -40 C.”
According to weather reports provided by the federal government’s Environment and Climate Change Canada, the average temperature for December 2022 was -21.6 C, with the warmest day of the month being Dec. 3 at -1.9 C, and the coldest day being -34.4 C on Dec. 22.
In 2021, the average temperature for December was -24.1 C with the warmest day of the month being Dec. 12 at -12.5 C and the coldest day being -37.4 C on Dec. 29.
Henkel said it’s taking longer to prepare the portages — the part of the road that boats can’t traverse — because the road is being made wider this year, which he said is the only thing that is different than normal.
“The only difference is that we widened out how the water trucks are building the portages,” he said. “You’ll spray one portage and then move to the next one, let the water turn to ice and then go back and do it again. It just takes a little bit longer and a little bit more work to build the portages but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”
Despite the road being widened this year, Henkel said that they were working on schedule as of Jan. 3.
Approximately 6,400 loads will be dispatched in convoys every 20 minutes over the course of the three-month period that the road is open, according to Henkel.
Last year, truckers delivered approximately 7,800 loads in the same amount of time. Henkel said that the reduced loads are based on the needs of the mines and had nothing to do with weather conditions.