Winter roads from Fort Smith to Fort Chipewyan and from Fort Chipewyan to Fort McMurray opened for the 2022-23 season on Friday.
Both roads are limiting vehicle weight to 5,000 kg. Parks Canada asked drivers to note a speed limit on ice bridges between Fort Smith and Fort Chipewyan of 15 km/h.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, meanwhile, requested that drivers reduce their speed to 30 km/h when passing equipment in the sandhills on the second section of the road.
“Fast-moving vehicles can build a wave under the ice that can easily damage the road and break ice suddenly when the wave strikes the shoreline, a sandbar, or collides with a wave from a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction,” the municipality stated.
Both organizations reminded travellers to watch for equipment and crews working on the roads, to pack the right safety gear, and to let someone know their travel plans. People are also encouraged to take vehicles with high clearance and four-wheel drive.
Stick to the designated road as there may be thin ice in surrounding areas, Parks Canada stated, and check the weather before you travel.
“Prepare for emergencies ahead of time. There are no regular services like road patrol, gas stations or reliable cell phone coverage,” the Wood Buffalo municipality reminded drivers.
Road updates can be found on the Parks Canada and Wood Buffalo websites. You can also call Parks Canada at (867) 872-7962 or the Wood Buffalo winter road hotline at (866) 743-6111.