The wheels are in motion for Robert Service Way to reopen within a week.
City officials confirmed at Whitehorse city council’s June 6 meeting the roadway will reopen, with temporary traffic controls in place, in five to seven days.
A large stretch of the road — along with parts of the Millennium Trail and airport trail — have been shut since April 30 when a major landslide sent debris down the escarpment, across the road and into the Yukon River. A number of slides in other sections of the escarpment have followed with much of the downtown escarpment base closed off due to the danger. The slides have been caused by saturated soil brought on by the record snow falls over the past winter.
The city has cleaned up the site of the April 30 slide and is installing a 100-metre sheet pile wall to prevent any more slides from reaching that section of the road. A soil berm next to the wall will also be installed. The effort is anticipated to cost the city $450,000.
“We are continuing to do the sheet piling and that will be followed by some work with a soil berm with respect to the rest of the escarpment,” said Tracy Allen, the city’s director of operations, after noting equipment issues over the weekend have set the work back by a little over a day.
City spokesperson Jordan Lutz explained that a pin in the crane hook broke, pausing work while a new pin could be manufactured. The wall is expected to be finished on the weekend with work on the berm then set to begin.
While that work is underway, efforts to monitor the entire escarpment for movement of, or new, tension cracks continue.
The city recently closed off access to the escarpment trail in the Takhini area from Dieppe Drive to near the Softball Yukon complex on Range Road. They will be putting a sewer bypass in place in case the sewer line is impacted by further sloughing of the escarpment since some cracking has been noted there. It’s anticipated that work will be finished June 11.
“It is adjacent to some infrastructure that we have so we’re looking at preparing alternative solutions to maintain levels of service in the event that those cracks either fail or continue to grow in size,” Allen said.
Looking ahead, Coun. Mellisa Murray questioned whether the sheet pile wall along Robert Service Way will be temporary, with Allen confirming the wall will be in place for at least a year while a permanent solution is found. The wall could be part of that permanent solution, she said.
“We’re working to get through, obviously, the immediate need right now and then we’ll finalize those details over the next few months,” she said.
Murray also confirmed with staff that the sheet pile wall is owned by the city and noted she’s heard some interesting ideas about perhaps having murals painted on the large metal wall.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org