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Federal government commits extra $72m to NWT highways

The federal government is committing $72 million to improve your drive across the Northwest Territories’ highways.

Combined with a $24 million investment from the territorial government, a total of $96 million was pledged to make the NWT’s highways – long a source of cynicism and suspension trouble – a better drive.

Colin Carrie, representing the federal government, made the election-year announcement alongside NWT Premier Bob McLeod in Yellowknife on Monday.

“Nearly every community and citizen will benefit from the higher-quality roads … which will help to improve access to and from remote communities,” said Carrie, MP for Oshawa and parliamentary secretary to the minister of environment.

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McLeod said: “This funding will allow the NWT to invest in transportation infrastructure essential for the economic health and prosperity of our territory and residents.

“Projects will improve sections of the highway system requiring upgrading because of age and increased traffic loads associated with current and future activities and resource development.”

The federal money is coming from the New Building Canada Fund.

Alongside that investment, the federal government is also spending $1.3 million to examine ways of extending the operating season for the territory’s winter roads.

So what will happen to the highways?

Here’s a breakdown of how you can expect the NWT’s highways to change as a result of this investment. The territorial government calls this its NWT Highway Capacity Upgrade Project:

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Highway 1: Fort Providence-ish to Wrigley – $14 million
Work will make the surface of the highway safer, with an initial three-year focus on reconstruction near the turn for Jean Marie River. From 2018, that focus will shift to the stretch of highway west of the junction leading north to Fort Providence.

Highway 2: Hay River to Enterprise – $3 million
The territory says the highway is subject to flooding because of its proximity to the Hay River at two locations near Enterprise. Money will be spent to move the highway away from the river in those areas.

Highway 3: Behchoko to Yellowknife – $18 million
This work will strengthen the highway between Behchoko and Yellowknife, adding drainage improvements in several locations “to provide a safe operating surface”. It’ll be a four-year project.

Highway 4: The Ingraham Trail – $8 million
The Ingraham Trail will receive resurfacing work, drainage improvement and chip seal on sections between kms 32 and 46, east of Yellowknife heading toward Reid Lake. That’s a one-year project. After that, three years of reconstruction is set to begin on a four-kilometre stretch beyond the Cameron River.

Highway 6: Hay River to Fort Resolution – $17 million
Sections of this highway are structurally weak and can be damaged during spring thaw. The territory will embark on four years of reconstruction between Pine Point and Little Buffalo River, including roadway widening, strengthening and chip sealing.

Highway 7: Fort Liard to Fort Simpson – $12 million
Kms 0 to 20, from the BC border to Fort Liard, will be chip sealed this year. Other sections will be resurfaced north of the hamlet and some areas of the highway will be widened.

Highway 8: The Dempster Highway – $18 million
Reconstruction work will improve the road surface between kms 0 and 272.

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Dettah Access Road – $6 million
Road reconstruction will take place from km 0 to km 4.1. The access road will then be chip sealed from km 0 to km 6.6.

According to the territorial government, its federal counterpart will commit almost $24 million this year, followed by three annual $16m contributions. The territorial government will supply almost $8 million in 2015, then just over $5 million for each of the three subsequent years.

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