How Ice Roads Are Built In Canada

by Derrick Gordon

Ice roads in Canada consist mainly of really thick ice. Contractors who make it their business to create safe surfaces along these ice roads begin as soon as the ice proves thick enough. To decrease slipping and sliding down these roads, an application of dirt or dust is applied. If you want to know more about how ice roads are built, the following information should help.

Clearing the Snow and Testing the Ice

An ice bridge contractor tests the ice about once a week until it is thick enough to hold the weight of the work trucks that will be on it. Then he sends his crew out to clear a path from the shore to an island or the next nearest shoreline. The snow may be piled up along the sides of this path to create a sort of crash guardrail, since the usual metal guardrails cannot be installed.

Loads of Dirt and Dust

The only way to keep heavy shipping trucks from sliding all over the ice and potentially falling through is to create a dirt road on top of the ice. The ice itself acts as the concrete portion of the road, while the dirt and dust is the asphalt. A very special piece of equipment known as a dust compactor moves along the ice road, pushing the dirt and dust down and compacting it into a smooth and even surface. Because dirt and dust quickly freeze and become very hard in the winter, they are the ideal surfacing materials for an ice road.

Testing the New Ice Road

To make sure the road is ready for travel, the contractor will send a few heavy trucks across it to see if the dirt surface is smooth and free of bumps. When it is ready, trucking companies are notified that the ice road is open for business. Because it is an ice road, though, it will need frequent maintenance all winter long.

Ice Road Maintenance

Ice road contractors spend their winters not only building the ice roads, but also maintaining them. This means that they continue to verify the thickness of the ice for safety, clear the road of snow, and "re-pave" the ice road with the dirt and the dust compactor. If they did not perform these duties, the road would become too dangerous, too bumpy and too slippery to travel. That would place several semi truck drivers in the dangerous position of spinning out or jackknifing on the ice and possibly falling through a thinner and weaker spot on the lake or strait where the ice road is located.

For more information, contact D W Jensen Drilling Ltd. or a similar company.