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$162 million to meet 'urgent' needs

John Curran
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 05/05) - Along with its pitch for the Mackenzie Highway extension, the territorial government wants an additional $162 million to upgrade existing transport infrastructure.

NNSL Photo/graphic

This is the route of the proposed $700 million all-weather extension to the Mackenzie Highway from Wrigley north to Tuktoyaktuk. - map courtesy of the NWT Department of Transportation

Called Corridors for Canada II: Building on Our Success, the plan includes $117 million for improvements to existing all-weather and winter roads that are facing added pressure due to resource development.

These include:

  • Mackenzie Valley Winter Road, $10 million;
  • Dempster Highway, $28 million;
  • A road to get gravel near Tuktoyaktuk to build an all-weather link to Inuvik, $15 million;
  • Liard Highway, $12 million;
  • Mackenzie Highway between Hwy 3 and 7, $26 million;
  • Trout Lake Winter Road, $2 million; and
  • The Ingraham Trail, $24 million.

Also contained in the proposal is another $45 million to promote economic diversification.

These projects include:

  • Fort Smith Highway improvements, $8 million;
  • Fort Resolution Highway improvements, $4 million;
  • Tlicho Winter Road realignment, $12 million;
  • Community access road improvements for Nahanni Butte, Hay River Reserve and Jean Marie River, $4 million; and
  • Runway extension in Fort Good Hope along with new airports for Colville Lake, Nahanni Butte and Trout Lake, totalling $17 million.

"This would be great news for us," said Nahanni Butte Chief Eric Betsaka. "The idea behind the new airport is that we get a lot of very strong crosswinds off the Mackenzie Mountains, so in many cases planes can't land."

He said, in addition to a new airport, an improved access road could make a big difference for the community's economy. "There are tourists who would like to come from Blackstone Territorial Park, but it's a long trip by boat. This would make it a lot easier for them to get here and for us to start accessing that form of revenue."