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Road still closed, escarpment still moving after landslide

City monitoring shows more shifting earth and accelerating groundwater flow
A drone photo of the landslide that came down the Whitehorse escarpment onto Robert Service Way on April 8. (Courtesy/City of Whitehorse)

The City of Whitehorse is reminding residents to stay away from the site of the landslide that closed Robert Service Way on April 8 as the escarpment above the roadway is still shifting.

The new notice about the escarpment was issued April 19 with the city stating that monitoring crews noted an increasing amount of groundwater leaving the hillside amid precipitation and warming temperatures.

The notice adds that along with the movement detected at the April 8 slide site, the rest of the escarpment is also very active.

At an April 14 technical briefing Mayor Laura Cabott and Taylor Eshpeter, Whitehorse’s engineering services manager said the city’s approach to landslide risk will remain fluid as conditions change. The city has a variety of measures in place to collect information about escarpment conditions including survey monuments placed in preparation for this spring. Those monuments were showing significant movement south of the site of the April 8 slide last week.

Eshpeter said the city has retained a geotechnical engineer for the season and has also procured a radar-based slope scanner that he said is expected to be installed April 20. The scanner, to be installed at a city facility on the opposite side of the Yukon River, will offer a nearly real time picture of what is going on with the escarpment.

“It will have a good view of basically the entire Robert Service Way started from Drury Street, to just south of the sheet pile wall. And that scanner is able to identify small movements in the escarpment and feed that to our our decision making,” Eshpeter said.

“Currently we’re limited to putting in prisms to measure movement. And you know, those require going out periodically and getting that one point of data in that specific time. But this is more of a continuous way to collect that information.”

The city has also partially opened its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate efforts by city staff when it comes to the landslides.

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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