Canada’s First Permanent Road To Arctic Coast Opens This Week

November 13, 2017

This Wednesday at 6 a.m., the first permanent road will open connecting Inuvik, Canada, and the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Coast.

The new 75-mile road provides year-round access that until now has only been available by airplane. The road is located in Canada's Northwest Territories near Yellowknife, and south of the Arctic Circle. reports that Tuktoyaktuk Mayor Darrel Nasogaluak will drive the inaugural trip on the brand new, two-lane all season highway south to Inuvik.

Talk about the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Mackenzie Valley Highway began in the 1960s. The road replaces a seasonal ice road and is Canada's first permanent link to its Arctic coast.

With its opening, Tuktoyaktuk (formerly known as Port Brabant  but now called "Tuk") is developing RV parking sites and public facilities for visitors. Estimates are that the new reliable route for supplies will reduce the cost of living in Tuk by about $1,500 per person in the town of 965 people. 

The highway's construction involved placing geotextile fabric between the ground and the road, using a fill technique that protects the permafrost, instead of using a cut & fill method that would have destroyed surface vegetation and lead to a possible thawing in the permafrost. If thawing were to happen, the road surface would be damaged. For this reason, construction on the road was done in the winter months to preserve the thermaforst. High temperatures in Inuvik in January average -13.9 degrees fahrenheit but can reach mid-60s in the summer.  EGT Northwind Ltd. was the contractor.

N.W.T. Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann has driven half the road and said it is likely to boost economic activity in the area by reducing transportation costs.

"It’s an example of the kind of infrastructure the N.W.T. desperately needs. Our infrastructure deficit is horrendous,” Schumann said.

Her Excellency the Right Honorable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada will attend the opening celebrations which will include fireworks and a lavish community feast with local favorites including caribou, reindeer, char, whale and muktuk.