Paul Murchison, director of transportation with highways and public works, stands near a now-closed bridge at kilometre 36.8 along an unmaintained section of Annie Lake Road on June 10. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Another bridge has been blocked off along Annie Lake Road

Some groups say this will hinder access to the backcountry

There are now two permanently blocked bridges along the unmaintained stretch of Annie Lake Road — and both could be removed eventually.

On June 10, a bridge at kilometre 37 had a barricade put in. Another, found less than 10 kilometres up, has had a barricade in place since 2014.

Both aren’t safe to carry the weight of vehicles, said Paul Murchison, director of transportation with the Yukon’s Department of Highways and Public Works, which is a public safety concern.

“They’re structurally not sound because of rot occurring, but as well as foundation failure,” he said, adding that the bridges, which are between 30 and 50 years old, won’t immediately be dismantled.

A plan to do that is on the table, though, Murchison said.

“To fully remove the risk you have to remove the structures.”

The lead-up to the most recent closure has occurred over the last week. It was during this timeframe that the bridge was inspected and warning signs were set up.

Notices to stakeholders – to Carcross/Tagish First Nation, for instance, which has traditional territory in the area — also went out, Murchison said.

But some groups are calling foul, saying the department didn’t do a good enough job with that.

Gord Zealand, the executive director of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, said he wasn’t notified of the change.

Notice, he said, should have been sent out to a greater number of groups “prior to someone arbitrarily deciding to close it down without any other thoughts.”

Getting rid of the bridges prevents people from accessing a popular recreational area, Zealand said.

“It’s a widely used area, not just by hunters and fishers, but people that are canoeing, kayaking, photography. There’s all types of people who utilize this particular watershed and road access.”

Asked to what extent the department consulted the public and businesses before the decision was made, Murchison said, “Yeah, the closure affects a number of people, for sure. It wasn’t a consultation at this point, just a notification that the bridge was being closed.”

He went on to say it’s not an option to permit people, particularly in vehicles, to go across the bridge.

“Our plans are right now only to protect the public.”

Murchison said bridge replacements run somewhere between $300,000 to $500,000.

He suggested this is too expensive.

“We also have to consider total capital budget.”

Zealand disagrees.

“It’s just a lot easier to say there’s a problem rather than fix it,” he said.

The bridges, he continued, are “a public resource. I know a lot of people who use that watershed every week.”

The Watson River Bridge, which is on the maintained section of road, is unaffected by this change, along with the Bailey Bridge at kilometre 26.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

WhitehorseYukonYukon Department of Highways and Public Works

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Yukon borders to reopen July 1, masks required at all Yukon airports

Yukon moves to Phase 2 of reopening on July 1

Runners race Reckless Raven

Nearly 60 Yukoners completed the fourth annual Reckless Raven 50-mile Ultra and… Continue reading

Local gardener asks for return of wagons

Alice Cyr grows vegetables for her condo, but has had two wagons stolen in the last two weeks

YukonU instructor pens letter urging immediate action to address systemic racism

A Yukon First Nations instructor at Yukon University has penned a letter… Continue reading

Liard First Nation elects new chief, council

Stephen Charlie beat out incumbent George Morgan by just six votes.

Diamond Tooth Gerties to reopen

The Klondike Visitors Association (KVA) announced in a press release on June… Continue reading

Newly-elected Liard First Nation chief accuses YG of interfering with election

Stephen Charlie says YG’s announcement days before election endorsed previous chief

COMMENTARY: Shifting the prevailing narrative of substance use

Blood Ties Four Directions Centre Special to the News Rarely does society… Continue reading

Alexco nearing production at Keno Hill mines

Alexco Resource Corp. is entering the final phase of development at its… Continue reading

Literacy award nomination deadline approaching

Nominations for the 2020 Council of the Federal Literacy Award will remain… Continue reading

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Today’s mailbox: Biases and the Yukon Spirit

Letters to the editor published June 26

Rezoning proposed for heavy industrial lot

Change would allow for office to be built

Most Read