Crews connect Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway in the middle
1st all-weather road to Canada's Arctic coast set to open in 2017
Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk are now connected by an all-weather road.
The two sides of the N.W.T.'s Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway met on Thursday, as construction crews poured the last bit of gravel to fill the gap.
"I have a big smile and big grin," said Kurt Wainman, owner of Northwind Industries, one of two contractors on the $229 million project.
Construction of the 120-km long two-lane highway began in January 2014, with crews split — one building the Inuvik side, the other on the Tuktoyaktuk end.
Wainman said they left space for two loads of gravel on Thursday, and then backed two rock trucks in.
"We sat in the middle while they dumped it," he said. "It was pretty awesome. It's nice to connect."
There's still a lot of work to be done on the highway before it's operational. The road, which extends the Dempster Highway, is not scheduled to open until fall 2017.
Mervin Gruben, vice president of E. Gruben's Transport Ltd., said crews still need to finish building embankments and bridges and complete the surfacing of the road.
"We have one more year of ice roads [between Inuvik and Tuk]," Gruben said.
"Any ice road enthusiast better get up here for this coming winter."
with files from David Thurton