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The N.W.T. government assumed full responsibility for the Deh Cho Bridge project this year. ((CBC))

Federal Auditor General Sheila Fraser will conduct a full audit of the Deh Cho Bridge project in the Northwest Territories.

Fraser has agreed to a request by the N.W.T.'s regular MLAs for an audit of the controversial project, which has been the subject of construction problems, contract disputes, soaring costs and heated debates.

"I'm hoping that the auditor general gets in and goes through the project from top to bottom with a fine-toothed comb," Yellowknife Kam Lake MLA Dave Ramsay, who called for the audit two months ago, told CBC News on Tuesday.

"Hopefully some fingers are pointed in the direction they should be pointed. For me that's what this is all about — it's all about accountability."

Fraser notified the government of the audit on April 29. The audit is expected to be completed in about seven months.

Assumed full responsibility

The bridge, currently half completed, will span one kilometre across the Mackenzie River at Fort Providence, N.W.T., and link North Slave communities year-round to points south. Once completed, it will replace the current summer ferry and winter ice crossing across the river.

Earlier this year, the territorial government took full financial responsibility for the project, which was previously a joint venture with the Deh Cho Bridge Corp., which was to operate the bridge.

The cost of building the bridge has swollen from an initial estimate of $55 million to the current price tag of $182 million.

Former premier Joe Handley, whose government entered into agreements to build the bridge just before the 2007 territorial election, said he does not understand why the current government has taken over responsibility for the project.

As for the federal audit, Handley said he does not expect it to uncover any new information.

"You know, I don't know what's happened since I was there. But certainly in the time that I was there, I don't think she'll find anything," he said.

"I couldn't imagine anything since, either, but who knows?"