Earl Blacklock from the Department of Transportation said the ferry did not hit the ice; rather, the ice that had floated into the channel hit the ferry. The rudder suffered damage from the blow, rendering the ferry unable to sail at approximately 6 p.m. on Thursday.
This provides a dilemma for heavier travelers, as the ice road crossing the Mackenzie River is strong enough to hold only 4,500 kg – the weight of a SUV or a loaded van. Commercial vehicles will be unable to cross until the ice thickens.
Blacklock said the Department of Transportation could have called in a maintenance crew; however, the procedure would have been risky in icy conditions. He said often quick fixes in the winter involve a lot of overtime hours, ice-covered machinery and slickways, and a shortage of parts.
“We’re evaluating the damage, and we’re evaluating the ice crossings,” said Blacklock. “It will be only a matter of days either way.”
Blacklock said to bring in an emergency maintenance crew to fix the ferry would cost taxpayers, when the weather necessary to strengthen the ice road is just around the corner.
“We’re asking the weather gods for some -25 degree weather,” said Blacklock, despite the recent warm spell.
“It was an unavoidable event – one that is all too common when you’re operating ferry service in January.”