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N.W.T.’s Great Bear River bridge construction delayed a year | CBC News

One of the biggest and most remote bridge projects ever undertaken in the Northwest Territories is going to take longer to build and cost more than anticipated.

The 486-metre-long bridge over the Great Bear River is a key component of the government’s proposed Mackenzie Valley Highway. Construction of the bridge was to begin this winter, but that is now being postponed until next winter, according to officials with the Department of Infrastructure.

The last estimate on the cost of the bridge was $70 million, but the department’s director of transportation says it’s going to cost more than that now.

“As you know, there are several projects nationally that have been impacted by… COVID-19, experiencing costs escalating — supply chain issues, material costs, fuel prices,” said Binay Yadav.

Yadav said he could not divulge a current cost estimate because doing so could affect bidding on the construction contract when a call for bids is issued. 

Yadav said the department is currently talking to the federal government about getting  more funding for the project, and also get an extension to the deadline for spending money it’s already been promised under the federal government’s National Trade Corridors Fund.

Five years ago, the federal and territorial governments announced they had set aside a total of $140 million for construction of the bridge and two other projects associated with the Mackenzie Valley Highway — a 15-kilometre all weather road from Wrigley to Mount Gaudet and for studies to re-start the environmental assessment of the highway project.

The federal government provided $102 million of that funding, which is to be spent by 2028. Under the revised timeline, the bridge is not expected to be completed until 2029.

Yadav said the Department of Infrastructure is currently negotiating with Tulita for land it needs to build the bridge. It plans to complete the final design of the two-lane structure later this summer, and file applications this fall for the permits it needs to move ahead with construction.


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