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Yk MLA pans Tuk highway
Dolynny fears $300 million project could be another Deh Cho Bridge-like boondoggle

Galit Rodan
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In the wake of last week's announcement of the reduction in funding for the Mackenzie Gas Project, Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny took to twitter to express misgivings about the Inuvik-Tuk highway project.

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Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny tweeted his misgivings about the Inuvik-Tuk highway project Thursday. - NNSL file photo

"Oh, yes, let's build the Inuvik-Tuk road! Maybe this government should see the warning signs before we spend $300 mil," Dolynny tweeted Thursday, linking his followers to an article about the funding reduction.

It was not the first time the MLA publicly expressed some reservations about the highway project. On February 15, the day after the government approved $2.5 million for the Department of Transportation to start environmental assessment work on the project, Dolynny spoke about the project in his member's statement.

"Decisions to move forward on this project are being (fueled by) emotional feelings or political lobbying rather than rational thinking," he said.

"The minister asking for a leap of faith or asking us to put our best foot forward or, heaven forbid, asking the Department of Transportation to trust them after what we have seen with the Deh Cho Bridge is not only unacceptable, it is insulting."

Dolynny said he supported the project in principle but felt more information was necessary before the government puts so much money into the 137-km stretch that it reaches the point of no return, as Dolynny said he felt was the case with the Deh Cho Bridge.

In particular, he asked Transportation Minister David Ramsay to provide a full risk matrix – an assessment that charts the various risks associated with a project in terms of their severity and probability.

In February, Ramsay said preliminary geotechnical and environmental work will have to take place, and a financing arrangement with the federal government agreed upon, before the government could provide a full risk matrix.

The estimated cost of the project has risen to between $250 and $300 million from $200 million – the figure quoted to Infrastructure Canada last year. The federal government entered into a 75-25 funding split with the GNWT based on the quoted figure of $200 million and earmarked $150 million for the road.

"I believe when it's done, the Inuvik-Tuk stretch will be one of the largest pieces of infrastructure this government has ever financed," Dolynny said Friday. He also wondered whether the government had a solid plan for recovering its investment; what the cost would be of maintaining the road over its lifetime; and whether the construction concept for the road – a layer of non-woven geotextile material between the existing ground and the construction material – would have the desired effect of stabilizing the road.

"The rational person in me is saying, ‘Listen. Hold on here folks. Until we've got some questions answered, to venture forward knee-deep, right away, I mean we're repeating the bridge project immediately,'" Dolynny said.

"We're going so fast. We don't have a lot of the information before us. In poker terms, we're getting pot-committed before we even know what the flop is.

"I would believe by the time we sit next time in May, my gut tells me there's going to be that critical push to get to 100 per cent approval."

Transportation Minister David Ramsay could not be reached for comment.

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