Construction halts at new bridge for Sahtu winter road

A federal inspector has slapped a stop work order on the $2.7 million bridge project after finding flooding at the site and unapproved modifications to the project.
The new bridge is part of a project to straighten out the Sahtu winter road, and could eventually become part of an all-weather road. (Joanne Stassen/CBC)

Construction of a new $2.7 million bridge for the Sahtu winter road has come to a screeching halt.

The department of transportation has been ordered to stop work on the project until it can get its water license for the project amended.

The Department of Transportation was hoping to complete the project this winter, but that looks doubtful at this point.

"We may or may not be able to use it in the next winter road season but that really won't have an impact one way or the other on winter road traffic,” says Earl Blacklock of the department. “We have an existing bridge. It's a fully functional bridge."

The new bridge is just 20 metres from the one being used now.

It's part of project to straighten out of the road six kilometres south of Tulita, and is an improvement that may one day be part of an all-weather road through the Sahtu.

Documents filed with the Sahtu Land and Water Board show that a federal inspector made the stop work order after finding flooding at the site and major modifications of the project.

According to the inspector's report, the flooding came from an aquifer that was uncovered during construction of the old bridge.

Modifications include using hundreds of 40-foot long logs to support the footings for the bridge.

Transportation officials say that was necessary when it was discovered the permafrost was not as close to the surface as expected.