YELLOWKNIFE (December 11, 2014) — Traffic is flowing safely and reliably across both Dempster Highway ice crossings. This is the first year highway service to the Beaufort-Delta region has been interrupted for only a short time during freeze-up.
“For the first time ever, we have provided near-continuous highway service to Inuvik during freeze-up,” said Minister of Transportation Tom Beaulieu. “We operated both ferries 24 hours a day while constructing the ice bridges. This investment significantly increased access to the region. It lowered the cost of living, improved mobility and provided more secure energy resupply to the Beaufort-Delta during what has always been a time when reliable highway access was not possible.”
The bridges are now at a capacity to serve commercial traffic and bring cargo to and from local communities. The department is continuing the work that will bring them to their maximum load capacity.
Ice bridges are vital connections linking northerners to each other and delivering essential freight. In previous years, the Dempster Highway was closed while ice crossings were built over the Peel and Mackenzie Rivers. These closures lasted up to 28 days for light traffic and 41 days for heavy traffic. This winter, the highway was closed for eight days while ice channels were cut. The ferries then operated 24 hours per day in the channels while ice bridges were built nearby. The GNWT used a similar process at the Highway 3 crossing at Fort Providence in the last few years before the Deh Cho Bridge was opened.
Investments in transportation infrastructure support the priorities of the 17th Legislative Assembly by connecting northerners to each other and increasing their well-being and prosperity. Northerners, industry and tourists depend on ice crossings to move around safely, securely and reliably. Improved highway access to communities strengthens and diversifies the NWT economy, making northern businesses more competitive and lowering the cost of living.