Fort Smith – Fort Chip – McMurray ice roads open

Fort Smith – Fort Chip – McMurray ice roads open
Marty Cardinal of Fort Chipewyan works on the Fort Chip ice road in -40?C weather.Photo: Donald Voyageur.

Winter roads opened to traffic last week, more than a week before the average date of Dec. 15, making travel to and from northeastern Alberta much more accessible.

The winter road from Fort Smith to Fort Chipewyan opened at noon on Friday, Dec. 7 for light traffic under 5,000 kg. Lindsay Wasylyshyn, asset manager for Parks Canada, advised drivers to be cautious, as road conditions remain uneven with snow removal crews operating in some sections.

He also suggested travelers call ahead with an estimated time of arrival and prepare for potential emergency situations, as there are no regular services, such as gas stations or patrol cars, or consistent cell phone reception along the winter road.

The winter road from Fort Chipewyan to Fort McMurray also opened last week, on Wednesday, Dec. 5. The same weight limit of 5,000 kg applies, and travelers are advised to use 4×4 vehicles, as there are steep and slippery ramps at river and creek crossings.

On the two bridge structures, Richardson Crossing and Firebag, southbound traffic will have the right of way. Drivers are required to follow posted speed limits on the bridges, as well as on the road itself, at 80 km/h in most of the sand hill area and 50 km/h in the delta area. Motorists are again encouraged to be ready for any emergency situation, as there are no service stations and little cell phone reception along the winter road.

For more information, call the winter road hotline at 1-866-743- 6111 or (780)-697-3600 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For information on the Fort Smith winter road, call Parks Canada at 867-872-7962.

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