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.