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Warm weather slows ice bridge

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 30/05) - Warm temperatures and overflows are slowing construction of the Mackenzie River ice crossing.

"Our spray pumps are marginally effective right now," said Art Barnes, a Department of Transportation official.

"There aren't enough cold temperatures to make them work."

Fort Providence temperatures are expected to reach highs of -9C over the weekend. The normal daytime high for this area is-20C.

In addition to unseasonably warm temperatures, two- to three-feet deep overflow has flooded the area on each shore, he said.

"Our guys are building a snow road and pushing their way through the water to get up to the edge of the ice so they can start using the pumps again."

Because of the mild weather, Barnes said he could not predict how long it would take to build the road.

Barnes cannot recall having such mild conditions for so long.

"Their objective right now is to complete the snow road which takes them through the overflow and they can freeze it and spray it."

Last year, the ice crossing opened to light traffic on Dec. 6. The latest it has ever opened was Jan. 24, 2002.

The ferry is continuing to operate on a 24-hour schedule, although officials warn there may still be minor delays.

The Dettah ice road is open with a weight restriction of 3,000 kg.