Spring break-up describes the time of year when field construction slows down or halts due to the melting snow and frost that causes the ground to become soft and muddy.

As the snow melts and frost thaws the ground becomes softer, including under roadways. If the ground isn’t completely stable there’s a high chance of road damage due to the movement of heavy trucks and equipment.

In order to protect roadways and prevent damage, such as potholes, provincial governments have weight restrictions on roads during this time of year. These restrictions effectively act as road use bans that limit the type of vehicles that can travel on roadways.

While road bans are in place the movement of the heavy equipment used to build the Expansion Project, such as graders, excavators and side-booms, is restricted. Additionally, when the ground is soft and muddy it’s very difficult for large construction equipment to manoeuvre in the field. As a result, during spring break-up most field construction takes a pause.

Typically, spring break-up begins at the end of March and can last up until the beginning of June. Timelines vary depending on the weather – a mild winter resulting in an early spring may shorten the duration of the break-up, while a cold, snowy winter may cause the break-up to last longer due to a higher amount of moisture in the ground.

This year, in Alberta, spring-break up is expected to begin around March 30 and last until April 30.