Yukon's North Klondike Highway remains closed after multiple landslides

·3 min read
A section of the North Klondike Highway. 'The road was washed out,' Jamie Lee Roberts said. 'There was a huge creek of running water.' (Submitted by Jamie Lee Roberts - image credit)
A section of the North Klondike Highway. 'The road was washed out,' Jamie Lee Roberts said. 'There was a huge creek of running water.' (Submitted by Jamie Lee Roberts - image credit)

Two sections of the Yukon's North Klondike Highway remain closed just east of Dawson City after multiple landslides caused by torrential rain blocked road access.

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.

Resident Jamie Lee Roberts found her family stuck on the wrong side of the mud.

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

"I was driving out toward the Dempster and the road was open," Roberts began. "At this point just past Rock Creek corner turning into Henderson there was a tree and a little bit of debris on the road but one lane was open."

When she was driving back toward Dawson, she discovered the situation had gotten much worse.

"The road was washed out," she explained. "There was a huge creek of running water. When I drove through it the first time it was very mild. On my way back there was a loader there pushing gravel to make a little road for us to go through."

Submitted by Jamie Lee Roberts
Submitted by Jamie Lee Roberts

Then she got to Henderson corner.

"There was a huge lineup of vehicles and a road barricade there. A lady came and said, 'Yeah you're not getting through, there's about four landslides,'" Roberts said.

Roberts said she waited in line so long she, along with other travellers, thought that they would be waiting there overnight.

That's when she decided to leave and go fishing instead. When she returned, all of the vehicles that were lined up were now parked on the side of the road and a helicopter was shuttling people over the slide area so they could make their way home.

Submitted by Jamie Lee Roberts
Submitted by Jamie Lee Roberts

Areas still unsafe

The Yukon Government's Department of Highways and Public Works says additional landslides occurred in these areas overnight.

Jim Regimbal is the northern superintendent for highways.

"People hear there's two spots with landslides," he said. "We probably have in excess of probably 10 of these slides that we're dealing with, so that's why it's taking a little bit of time to put the right plan in place. We want to make sure that the right plan's in place and safe for everyone."

Chris MacIntyre/CBC
Chris MacIntyre/CBC

The closure means people in Dawson City are cut off from the section of highway that connects Rock Creek Subdivision and Henderson Corner, or points further south. People coming north from Whitehorse are unable to access the Dempster Corner.

Regimbal says engineers and workers are on-site assessing the situation and creating a plan to clear the highway.

He says it is unclear when those sections of highway will reopen to the public.

"I'd be picking my 649 numbers if I knew exactly when that was happening," Regimbal told CBC News.

Regimbal said safety is his department's top priority. It's is asking the travelling public to avoid the closed highway areas.

The latest information on the situation will be provided to the public through the department's Facebook page and 511 Yukon.