Construction on the all-season Tlicho Highway will resume in the spring, after it wrapped up for 2020 on Dec. 15.
In an update on the project in the legislative assembly Wednesday, Infrastructure Minister Diane Archie said the project’s target completion date of the fall of 2021 is still on track despite a six-week pause in construction last spring due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“To date about 97 kilometres of embankment construction and 45 kilometres of gravel surfacing has been completed,” and three of the highway’s bridges have been built, with the fourth due to be constructed in the summer, Archie said.
The completed two-lane gravel highway will provide year-round access from Highway 3 to the community access road to Whati at kilometre 97.
Archie hailed the collaboration in the project between the community government of Whati, the Tlicho Government, Kiewit Canada corporation, the federal government and the GNWT.
“It’s an example of how infrastructure projects on NWT Indigenous territories can be carried out. The highway runs through Tlicho lands and the Tlicho Government’s 20 per cent equity ownership in North Star Infrastructure is reflective of that important fact. This is a positive step towards reconciliation and we’ll take lessons learned to apply to future projects.”
Archie added that the highway’s increased access to Tlicho communities will help reduce costs of living in the region, support new social opportunities and attract interest from industry for the development of natural resources.
Nighthawk Gold Corporation president Keyvan Salehi said in a news release Thursday that the completed Tlicho Highway will give better winter road access to the company’s Indin Lake Gold Property.
“The continuation of an all-season road, through our property to the community of Wekweeti is a logical next step and something that we will strive to advocate for as we continue to advance our assets.”
After starting in September 2019, the project has employed 256 people, 109 of them local residents.
Nearly 10,000 hours of local job training has been offered and 48 bridge piles have been installed.