Ice Road Maintenance

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Ice Road Maintenance

Ice Road Maintenance


Living and working in Northern BC equates to some of the trickiest winter driving conditions. Many individuals have to traverse man-made ice roads to access oil and gas operations, mining, forestry or other applications. In fact, Canada is home to approximately 5300 km of frozen, temporary roads. Northern Vac Services offers ice road maintenance to help keep communities safe and accessible. Vital for many isolated locations, ice roads enable residents, crews and those with no prior overland connection to travel on frozen highways during the winter. Areas and industries that rely on air cargo or ocean barges to deliver food, medicine, and supplies during the summer can utilize these frozen highways as long as they are safe.

How Are Ice Roads Built?

The seasons are changing and many of Canada’s ice roads are becoming more dangerous due to rising temperatures and subsequent melting. Ice roads are typically constructed in November or December, depending on weather and location. The depth of the ice is calculated with augers, hand drills and even an ice profiler featuring sub-surface interface radar to calculate thickness. Those handling the initial ice road construction are wearing the appropriate safety gear. Sub-zero survival suits equipped with flotation are utilized in case anyone falls through the ice. The ice road route is determined once the best ice has been detected. Special equipment including amphibious Argos, snow-cats or similar vehicles with tracks, blades, and plows then go to work to create a flat, even road surface. The ice hardens up much faster once the insulating snow has been removed. There are many considerations taken into account every year in order to create a solid base for ice road construction. Safety is paramount. Within a week or two of starting, many ice roads become available for public transportation. After collecting data from the 8-decade history of ice roads, a formula has been developed stating that 17” should be enough thickness to support 5 tons.


Ice Roads Required For Re-Supply

Logistics need to be planned carefully to ensure remote locations have enough food, water, fuel, medical supplies etc. Many heavier construction items including machinery, parts, lumber etc. are delivered via ice roads as shipping them by air or sea may not be an option or may prove too costly. New homes and community upgrades require bulkier items to get the job done. Heating work sites and ensuring vehicles and homes have enough fuel to stay warm and active is essential. Northern Vac Services has the industrial transportation equipment and water trucks to help keep these ice roads running in optimum condition. In the past, 3 or 4 feet of ice was common; however, the last few years have shown a dramatic impact on the longevity and security of these dangerous roads. Northern residents in the Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have reported falling into the water due to global warming.

Northern Vac Services Can Help Keep Your Ice Road Safe

Due to temperatures thawing faster than normal, more ice road maintenance often has to be organized to maintain thickness. Water can be sprayed or holes may be drilled in the lake or waterway to add water. Every situation requires careful evaluation in order to keep everyone safe. Northern Vac Services has proudly been serving Fort St. John, Tumbler Ridge, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd and many other locations for decades. We are local and understand how vast and ever-changing our wilderness is. If you need reliable industrial transportation, including snow removal at your site, hydrovac services, potable water delivery or help with maintaining roadways made from ice during the winter, our team is happy to help!


We are here to ensure that all ice roads are safe and functional throughout the season. We look forward to helping you safely deliver your crew and your essentials.