Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway Project Hosts International Symposium of Permafrost Scientists

INUVIK (April 19, 2016) - Scientists from Canada and the United States are gathering in Inuvik this week to observe leading-edge research and development installations on the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway alignment.

The goal of these installations is to assist in the development of new construction techniques for civil engineering projects constructed on frozen ground in the circumpolar world.  The Northwest Territories’ unique environment allows the Department of Transportation to assume a leading role in such climate change research.

Construction of the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway is underway in an area of continuous permafrost and in an area sensitive to climate factors making it an ideal location for testing and monitoring innovative civil construction techniques. Two significant tests installed on the highway’s alignment are drawing international scientific attention:  an innovative stream crossing structure and a deep fill embankment section, both aimed at adapting infrastructure construction methods and designs to the effect of a changing global climate and working in permafrost conditions.

The Department of Transportation is collaborating with Transport Canada on research and development through the Network of Expertise in Permafrost under the federal Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative.  The Government of Canada has contributed over $650,000 to work underway in the NWT to research climate change adaptation methods. 

The 137-kilometre Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway, currently under construction near the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories, is a major infrastructure project now into its third year of construction of a four-year program.


“Innovation and research are invaluable to projects such as the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway, as they are at the forefront of transportation infrastructure improvements of benefit to communities across the NWT.   The visiting group of global scientists will contribute knowledge and expertise toward improving the methods used to install infrastructure in permafrost-riddled areas, where conventional construction techniques are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the effects of the changing climate.”
- Wally Schumann, Minister of Transportation

Quick Facts

  • The Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative is a collaborative initiative that includes the participation of stakeholders in the territorial and provincial governments, academia, and the private sector in building capacity and developing effective adaptation practices in order to ensure a resilient northern transportation system. 
  • The Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway is a $299 million project supported by the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories.
  • Construction work is being completed using unique techniques to ensure the continuous permafrost remains protected in a frozen and undisturbed state.

Related links

Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway website
Transport Canada’s Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative

Media inquiries for the department

Ioana Spiridonica
Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway Communications
Department of Transportation
Government of the Northwest Territories
867-767-9082 ext. 31042
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