Yukon Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn and MP Larry Bagnell announced in Whitehorse on May 23 that the Yukon and federal governments plan to spend more than $9 million on sensors to electronically monitor the safety of some of the roads, bridges and streams. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon gets federal cash to monitor roads, streams and bridges

‘Instead of sending a road crew out we’ll be able to do it in real time’

The Yukon and federal governments have earmarked more than $9 million to spend on sensors to electronically monitor the safety of some of the roads, bridges and streams.

Yukon Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn and MP Larry Bagnell made the announcement last week in Whitehorse.

“Instead of sending a road crew out we’ll be able to do it in real time and see what’s happening on those roads, get that information to the public, get it to our road crews and be able to deploy our resources faster and more efficiently to those sites,” Mostyn said.

The federal money is part of the $2 billion national trade corridors fund that Ottawa has promised over 11 years. For this project the federal government has approved $6.9 million and Yukon has agreed to contribute $2.3 million.

The Department of Highways and Public Works did not make any officials available for an interview about the project.

In a statement the department said it already monitors some ground temperatures anywhere from 0.3 metres to 22 metres under the ground.

“The top metre is monitored in the spring so we know when to apply weight restrictions on heavy trucks to protect the road from damage,” the statement says.

The deeper ground temperatures are tracked to understand what is happening in the permafrost layer.

“The placement of sensors to monitor ground temperature will depend on the placement of existing transportation assets and sensing equipment and the needs of the transportation network as a whole,” the statement says.

Mostyn said Yukon road crews currently inspect bridges manually. With the new money 10 bridges will get electronic sensors, he said.

“Once that work is done, once the work is inputted into the iPad and uploaded then we have a digital copy,” he said.

The department said specific structures, which could also include runways, have not been chosen yet.

“In 2019/20, we will work to identify and position sensors into our network that can provide advanced warning of various risks.”

The statement said locations will be chosen based on factors including their existing condition, use, and load weight.

As for Yukon’s streams, the department says sensors measuring the flow rates of streams and rivers “provide information that helps engineers design safe and cost effective bridges and culverts. They also can provide advanced and ongoing indications of problems that may arise in a flood.”

According to Bagnell, about $400 million of the national trade corridors fund has been earmarked for the territories.

The sensor cash is one of seven projects the Yukon has submitted applications for. In March, following questions from the opposition, Mostyn revealed the total request for all seven projects was approximately $470 million. He did not provide details of what the projects were.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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