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A Review of Guidelines on Ice Roads in Canada: Determination of Bearing Capacity


An ice road is a winter road that runs mostly on frozen water expanses. A significant number of guidelines (best practices, design codes, handbooks and manuals) currently exist for the construction, maintenance and usage of these structures. They are typically published by provincial jurisdictions, the private sector and some research organizations. They are also found in the scientific literature. These guidelines include various amount of information of different types, notably some background on the nature of the ice cover, how it should be used for transportation purposes and how to determine the maximum load it can safely sustain. For the latter, Gold’s formula, or a version thereof, is almost always alluded to. Significant differences are noted in the guidelines’ recommendations regarding the strength of white ice relative to clear ice, resulting in a large discrepancy in recommended maximum loads. Although white ice is mechanically weaker than clear ice, the influence of that difference on the bearing capacity has yet to be understood. New empirical data, numerical and analytical studies and physical testing are possibilities to investigate this issue.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Winter Road Maintenance - Getting You There Safely
Barrette, P.D.
Construction, Maintenance and operations