Yellowknife commuters say goodbye to Giant Mine

A new section of N.W.T.'s Highway 4 opened Friday to replace the bumpy, winding, and perhaps more iconic section of highway that ran past Giant Mine.
CBC's Juanita Taylor reports from Yellowknife 2:14

A new section of N.W.T.'s Highway 4 opened Friday to replace the bumpy, windy, and perhaps more iconic section of highway that ran past Giant Mine.

The Ingraham Trail, known as Highway 4, is a route to recreation areas, cabins and homes outside the city and also the link to the winter road to the diamond mines.

Francois Rossouw and his family have lived along the Ingraham Trail for more than 20 years. Friday morning was his last time driving by Giant Mine.

"I deliberately slowed down and took a good last look at some of these buildings, because we always look at them, so I made sure sort of in my mind's eye I had these images," he said.

The Department of Transportation has been planning the new section of highway for years.

"There were some issues in terms of it was an older highway," said Earl Blacklock, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation. "It needed to be upgraded, updated to improve safety."

Blacklock says the older section didn't have a very good alignment and it was close to the highly-contaminated Giant Mine site.

He says federal partners helped plan and pay for the bypass, because of the ongoing clean-up work that includes pulling down buildings full of toxic material and managing the 237,000 tonnes of arsenic that are buried in chambers  one of which is immediately below the old section of road.

The territorial government had a budget of $17 million for constructing the new section of road.