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Yellowknife-Dettah ice road expected to open shortly

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The ice road between Yellowknife and Dettah is under construction and forecast to open soon – but drivers are warned to stay off in the meantime.

The Department of Infrastructure said on Thursday the ice has now reached the required minimum thickness of 35 cm across all areas measured.

"It will likely be at least a couple days before the road opens," the department told Cabin Radio by email.

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"In the meantime, it’s very important for folks to stay off the closed ice road for their safety, the safety of our staff, and the safety of first responders."

Driving on the road before it officially opens is illegal and carries an $863 penalty.

So far this season, no fines have been issued. RCMP are responsible for enforcing the road closure when it comes to non-commercial drivers; the Department of Infrastructure has responsibility for fining commercial drivers.

Last year, the ice road made headlines when someone parked and subsequently abandoned a Buick midway across it, leading to the unlikely sight of a lone, ticketed vehicle marooned on the ice.

The Dettah ice road will be coming in late for the fourth consecutive year.

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The department says its average opening date over the past 15 years has been December 23, although this average itself has been gradually shifting later. The road did not open until January in 2016, 2017, and 2018.