Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway Scheduled to Launch November 15

Friday, June 30, 2017

Cassidy Menard of the Department of Infrastructure, Government of the Northwest Territories, writes about the new Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk all-season highway, scheduled to launch November 15.

In the far reaches of Canada’s Northwest Territories, the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH) is emerging as a key component of the nation’s infrastructure.

The highway, which totals 137 kilometres in length, will link the Town of Inuvik with the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, and will eliminate dependence on a seasonal ice road. The official opening of the highway is planned for November 15, 2017, after which Canada will be connected by land from coast to coast to coast, an historic event befitting the country’s upcoming 150th anniversary.

The ITH has opened the door to an abundance of scientific research. A permafrost monitoring network has been established along the highway, which was funded through the Federal Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative and the Government of the Northwest Territories. The information gathered from this network will inform global permafrost and climate change research for transportation corridors across the North.

But the new highway is not just remarkable for its research potential in Canada’s Arctic. It also generates many social and economic opportunities. For one, significant cost savings are expected for Tuktoyaktuk, as the highway will allow for the year-round, cost-efficient delivery of goods. Greater intercommunity travel and cooperation is also expected between Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik once the highway is complete.

Photo: Department of Infrastructure, Government of the Northwest Territories

The Honourable Wally Schumann, Minister of Infrastructure for the Government of the Northwest Territories, has often emphasized the major contribution the project has had, and will continue to have, on local employment and Northern industry.

“During the four-year construction period, approximately $90 million in subcontract work has been distributed to the communities of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk,” said Schumann. “Over six hundred individuals were employed at the peak of construction, many of whom have greatly benefitted from the associated training opportunities.”

These opportunities range from wildlife monitoring to the operation of heavy equipment. As Schumann points out, “These are skills that can be transferred to a variety of industries and support the development of a strong Northern workforce.”

In addition to the many benefits the highway will bring for residents of the Northwest Territories, the ITH is expected to attract numerous visitors from across Canada and around the world who hope to travel to the Arctic Ocean and witness the radiance of the Beaufort Delta. The Government of the Northwest Territories will be partnering with the communities of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, as well as with local Indigenous governments, to host a tourist-focused celebration during the summer of 2018.

While expanding infrastructure is a key priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories, so is the preservation of the North’s natural beauty. To help mitigate any adverse impacts on the environment during and after construction, over 230 environmental commitments were made during the environmental assessment process. The status of those commitments is being tracked and reported publicly via the project’s website.

Prevention measures include the use of silt fencing to protect nearby water from soil run-off and the placement of rip rap foundation to help prevent soil erosion. Various monitoring agencies such as the Inuvialuit Land Administration and Environment and Climate Change Canada conduct both summer and winter inspections of the site.

Upon completion, the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway will realize the efforts of many experts, particularly that of Northern workers. Today the highway represents a vision that has been in the making for over 50 years, and it will soon represent a legacy of progress, prosperity and equal opportunity for all Canadians.

For additional information about the status of the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway, visit the Government of the Northwest Territories website.