What Is Ice Road Trucking Exactly?
Canada’s northern territories. The cold, snowy desolation of this land is only comparable to the deserts of the Sahara. Trucking management software update you about your truck in every situation and it is a management system for truck. Deep in the territories, mining operations, more specifically, diamond mining operations, operate year round regardless of conditions or weather.
The miners need supplies. This is a fact that is not helped by the harsh reality of the location of the mines. Building roads to these camps would not be cost effective due to the cold and the relative low use the roads would get (being only used for supply trucks destined for the camps).
However there are ample amounts of lakes and rivers in these territories. During the warmer months, ferry becomes the primary method of supplying the miners. However, during the cold season, ferry travel become impossible… this is where “ice road trucking”, comes into play.
Contrary to popular belief, the ice roads are actually man made. Once the lakes and rivers freeze, the snow is plowed away on the surfaces intended for use in the ice road. Because the snow is gone, the ice beneath it is exposed directly to the sub-freezing air (often reaching temperatures of -60F). This makes the ice under the ice road particularly thick and strong, able to stand up to the weight of tractor trailer trucks carrying supplies to the mines as well as towns which due not have year round road access.
It would be silly to think that the trucks could simply travel the entire waterway to their destination though. Occasionally, ramps are made to connect bodies of water over short pieces of land. This is done by mixing snow and lake water into slush. The slush is then formed into ramps and bypasses which quickly freeze in the extreme cold.
These frozen roadways are typically very flat and even, providing a better ride than even the regular roads. However, ice road trucking has proven to be dangerous. The relative variability of using ice as a construction material; makes the roads unstable at times, especially for the large tractor trailers using the roads.
Despite that speeds are regulated (to around 15 mph), there are still a list of dangers truckers try to avoid. If going too fast, the mass of the trucks can cause waves beneath the ice’s surface causing the “road ice” to break free from the shoreline. Also, variances in temperature can cause the ice to expand and contract, resulting in large cracks in the ice.
Ice road trucking is the most cost effective way to get supplies to these remote northern areas, when compared to air freight or ferry. Though thought of as extremely dangerous, ice road trucking has proven to be a relatively safe, reliable, albeit unique, way of transporting goods in some of the harshest climates in the world.