Yukon's North Klondike Highway to temporarily remain single lane for safety reasons

Multiple landslides on Thursday shut down sections of the Yukon North Klondike Highway. (Yukon Highways and Public Works/Twitter - image credit)
Multiple landslides on Thursday shut down sections of the Yukon North Klondike Highway. (Yukon Highways and Public Works/Twitter - image credit)

The North Klondike Highway will remain partially open to all vehicles, says Jim Regimbal, the northern area superintendent with Yukon Highways and Public Works.

The highway opened to single lane traffic over the weekend after multiple landslides closed the road in two sections last Thursday.

The slides occurred between kilometre 666 and 674, approximately 10 kilometres south of the Dempster Highway cut-off, and kilometre 693 to 696 at Rock Creek just north of the Dempster Highway cut-off.

A pilot car has been on site shuttling vehicles between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. between kilometres 693 to 696.

Regimbal said Monday the section south of the Dempster Highway cut-off is open to one-lane traffic with no time restrictions.

The one-lane traffic is in place for safety reasons, he said, with the rain on Monday, and another assessment of the slide area still needed.

"Just in case there's any more movement, we want to make sure people can see it coming," Regimbal said.

'Minimal' movement

The department will have some engineers come Tuesday to assess the area. He said for now, the debris on the road will remain there to act like a barrier.

"The way the landslides come down so slowly, that natural barrier that's in place right now of debris will hold back anything from coming on the road," he said.

"We're gonna have to keep that the way things are going right now till we get a good flight with a drone and see if there's any more cracks in the area that may cause some more landslides to come down."

Yukon Highways and Public Works/Twitter
Yukon Highways and Public Works/Twitter

So far, he said there haven't been any more slides.

"There's been a little bit of movement, but very minimal … I did touch base with the engineer on the phone, and have been assured that that's all normal."

He said in terms of wait time on the highway, "it all depends." He said it can range from five minutes to 15 or 20 minutes. If there is movement on the slide here and there, he said there could be about a 20-minute wait until it settles down and it's safe to go through again.

"Unless we're 100 per cent sure that it's safe for the travelling public and the workers, we're not going to let people through," he said. "If there's any change, we'll ... advise accordingly."

He said the road is open for restricted hours for safety reasons.

"If there are any landslides, you can't see them in the dark, and they really will creep up on you," he said.

"We want everyone to be safe and then once it's OK, we'll move the debris and go to two lanes."

Yukon Highways and Public Works/Twitter
Yukon Highways and Public Works/Twitter

Regimbal said that beneath the debris the highway is still in generally good shape, though there may be a bit of work needed in the Flat Creek area.

"What's been passed on to me from the engineers is the road is good just because it was such a slow slide coming across," he said. "It didn't do the damage that a normal high-velocity landslide would create."

He said the status of the road could change based on weather or unforeseen circumstances, and recommended people check 511 Yukon for the most up to date information.