Dawson City Front Street – Skookum Asphalt

A century ago, Dawson City, located 536 kms, northwest of Whitehorse was a gold rush boomtown. Today, the community is still a gold mining centre, although the main economic activity is tourism attracting 60,000 visitors annually.

The discovery of gold in the Klondike valley in 1896 led to the establishment of a tiny community where the Klondike River flows into the Yukon. By the summer of 1898, Dawson City was the largest city in Canada west of Winnipeg, with a population of 40,000.

It was determined through completion of extensive testing and thermal modeling of the permafrost beneath Front Street that a black asphalt surface would not be suitable for surface treatment. It was also recognized that due to the Heritage Value of Dawson City, black asphalt would not be acceptable.

Through the collaborative efforts of the Yukon Territorial Government, Skookum Asphalt and Colas, they came to the solution to match the pavement color to the existing gravel roads using the Colas product, Bituclair, which was the first time that Bituclair was used in a North American application.

The Bituclair ES binder was modified and tested in the Colas laboratory in France in order to meet the harsh weather conditions experienced in Dawson City of -50C to +35C. Bituclair, being light coloured, was ideal for the project not only for its visual appeal, but because of its light colour giving the surface the ability to reflect the sun’s rays. Whereas black asphalt would allow for heat absorption causing permafrost melt acceleration.

The 123 tonnes of Bituclair ES was transported from Vitrolles, France to Vancouver, British Columbia via containers loaded on a ship, then transported the remainder of the 19,000km journey to Dawson City on highway tractor/trailer units.

  • 4,900 mt of conventional 12.5mm top size black asphalt in bottom 75mm thickness,
  • 1,900 mt of Colclair 6mm top size asphalt utilizing Bituclair in top 25mm thickness,
  • Average number of Skookum employees on site during construction was 28.

Dawson City Front Street is now the flagship project for Bituclair in North America!!

To learn more about Skookum, please visit the Terus Construction website