By Leigh Armstrong

The White Pass & Yukon Route has installed additional safety measures following an April 24 rock slide that damaged some of the buildings on the railroad dock. 

A large boulder fell on the dock and caused damage as it split apart. The rock broke through the netting that was in place to prevent the fall. Some of the outbuildings that were grouped together for off-season storage on the dock were damaged, said Tyler Rose, WPYR director of planning and human resources.

The north fence will be repaired and there was no damage to railroad dock, Rose said. 

There’s a wall of concrete blocks that was planned to be put in place before the season began to further mitigate risk, Rose said. The wall is currently in place and the dock is back in business. 

As an additional preventative measure, WPYR has positioned a row of shipping containers to narrow the path for people coming off the ship and toward Skagway. The covering over the units will help protect passengers and workers from potential injury in a rock fall. The tunnel of storage containers will be in place until the end of season, Rose said.  

The new tunnel also serves to focus traffic flow toward Skagway, said Mark Taylor, WPYR superintendent of rail operations.  

The railroad dock was closed the week after the rock fall and ships that were scheduled to dock there moved to the ore dock instead. The switch was made not just because of the rock slide but because installation work was still underway on additional mooring dolphins at the railroad dock, Rose said. 

After the rock slide, Mayor Andrew Cremata met with WPYR officials to discuss work to lessen the risk of further slides. 

“WPYR have been working with a geologist to identify problem areas on the mountain and develop a multi-layered strategy to minimize risk to dock users,” Cremata said. “I’m confident further safety enhancements will be expedited.” 

WPYR has a monitoring system in place at the top of the rocky area to help detect problem areas that may slide, as well as the fence to hold possible rock slides in place.