Traffic on the opening day of the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Joint Venture Winter Road was triple the expected volume.
On Feb. 6, 134 trucks travelled the 400-km route, 70 of which were hauling fuel, more than 30 carried cement while 26 were loaded with general freight, according to Barry Henkel, director of the winter road.
He explained that the operators — Arctic Canadian Diamond Company Ltd., Diavik and De Beers — normally expect 40 to 50 trucks to go up the road in a day.
“The carriers had more trucks up here than they would normally have because they staggered their (starting dates),” he said, describing the large influx of traffic on opening day.
According to the joint venture’s website, the winter road was expected to open on Jan. 31 but Henkel said, in actuality, the road opens whenever it’s ready.
Passage was delayed by a week because of mild temperatures and other difficulties building the road.
Despite the busy opening day, Henkel said the increased traffic caused no problems with the ice road itself and there were only minor issues with trucks getting stuck or breaking down.
He said the portages are between 10 and 12 metres wide, the road below the tree line is 35 metres wide and the road above the tree line is 40 metres wide.
On Feb. 10, Henkel said the ice along the Tibbitt to Contwoyto route had thickened by three inches since the road opened four days earlier.
The first year that the winter road was constructed was in 1982 to supply the Lupin Gold Mine at Contwoyto Lake, Nunavut.