Dempster completion in the works

Dempster completion in the works Plans to complete the final stretch of the Dempster Highway between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk are underway.

Plans to complete the final stretch of the Dempster Highway between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk are underway.

The project, announced a year ago by the federal Conservatives, is expected to cost between $250 and $300 million and take four to five years to complete.

It would provide an all-weather road link to Tuktoyaktuk, an Inuvialuit community of about 900 residents. Currently, it’s only possible to drive to the remote coastal community on a winter road.

The government of the Northwest Territories is spearheading the work. It views the project as part of a broader plan to develop the Mackenzie Valley, with the help of a new highway that would run through the wilderness from Wrigley to Inuvik.

“Preparations to build it are well underway,” said Jim Stevens, director of the Mackenzie Valley Highway project.

A geophysical survey was recently completed – an important step as “at the end of the day, this is a large dirt-moving project,” said Stevens.

An environmental assessment is underway with public hearings expected in June and a decision likely by the autumn, said Stevens.

The territory still needs to secure the right-of-way and settle gravel royalties with the Inuvialuit. It also must decide how to award the building contract, either through a tender call, design-build proposal or public-private partnership. That will likely be decided by early May.