The mayor of Dawson says the city is working with the territorial government to reopen the entire Dome Road through the winter after a local contractor surprised the community by plowing it all the way to the top.
The road is normally inaccessible in the winter anywhere beyond the last subdivision unless drivers have large trucks or snow machines.
Last month it was cleared to the top by the contractor who normally clears the roads to the private residences. Mayor Wayne Potoroka said that wasn’t done at the request of the city or the territorial government. Potoroka believes the contractor plowed it to the top to help a motorist with a broken down vehicle get down.
For a short time residents were able to drive all the way to the Dome lookout. That was until officials with both governments decided to block the route with a large pile of snow.
The two sides are now discussing how to make the road accessible year road.
The road is once again closed to traffic, although the barricade appears partly cleared. Potoroka said the goal was for it to only be temporary.
The unmaintained road is a joint responsibility between the town and the territorial government. The two governments need to sort out details like who will pay to have it cared for and whether it needs precautions like guardrails, he said.
The Yukon government has been promising to investigate the feasibility of keeping the Dome Road open all winter since at least last fall.
After the road was plowed, Potoroka said he had a conversation with Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn.
“He’s been in touch to say, ‘Hey, why don’t we come up with some sort of solution so the road can be open for the winter?’ to which we said, ‘Sounds great.’”
Mostyn was not available for an interview for this story.
Everyone is trying to take advantage of what happened, Potoroka said.
“We’re trying to reverse engineer some sort of plan to keep the road open now that its actually been open. We’re playing catchup. The fact is the road is open and now we’re trying to put in place all of those issues that need to be taken care of.”
The opportunity to drive up to the Dome in the winter gave everyone a chance to see just how valuable the road can be to winter tourism, the mayor said.
“People went up there and really got a look at what we know is an incredible view, especially in the winter and would make a really great viewpoint for Northern Lights.”
He said it’s “really great” that the road was plowed because it showed how interested the community is in keeping it open.
“Now I think we just have to figure out how to make it happen and the Yukon government so far has shown a willingness to assist.”
Contact Ashley Joannou at firstname.lastname@example.org