Proposed road would extend to northwestern Canada

| Monday, January 09, 2006

The government of the Northwest Territories in Canada is hoping to extend an all-weather highway to the extreme northern tip of the mainland.

The highway would take an estimated 10,000 trucks a year as far north as the port of Tuktoyaktuk – or “Tuk” – 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Talk about taking the high road.

The territorial government has asked the feds for $700 million in loan guarantees to extend the Mackenzie Highway by 500 miles – which is about 800 kilometers – from Wrigley, NWT, to Tuk.

The Mackenzie Highway originates as Highway 35 in Alberta and winds up the Mackenzie River, the second largest river in North America to Wrigley, which is near Great Bear Lake.

Debt service of $35 million per year on the proposed extension could translate into a total price tag of $1.2 billion, including interest, NWT deputy transport minister Russell Neudorf told media sources.

According to the Canadian Tourism Commission in 2004, the gravel Dempster Highway has been the only public road north of the Arctic Circle in Canada. But, Dempster only extends to Tuktoyaktuk in winter when it becomes an ice highway.

The new highway, if approved and constructed, would be open all seasons.