Process inches by inch
Study proposals open for bids

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Sep 11/98) - The goal of connecting Canada's Northern coast to the rest of the country by an all-weather road is slowly inching forward.

Bids are open to develop a proposal to study the environmental impact of the proposed highway as well as to conduct a benefit-cost analysis.

A third study -- the engineering report -- is set to be done in house by the GNWT department of transportation.

Once the studies are done, cabinet can discuss the feasibility of giving the project the go-ahead and where the financing will come from.

The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway committee met in Inuvik Sept. 3 for a group discussion with Masood Hassan, the Department of Transportation's director of transportation planning, and other government officials.

Committee members agreed on the route for the highway, that the road should be in operation year-round save for possible few-day washouts and that area workers could be employed during construction.

Debate arose on the time frame to complete the road with Tuktoyaktuk's Richard Newmark stressing the shorter time frame for completion, the better.

"It's more realistic to put completion at 10 years instead of 20," Newmark told the meeting before stressing benefits such as employment creation, regional product cost reduction and even things such as how baseball teams could pile into a van and make a road trip to Inuvik to play for a fraction of the cost of flying.

"It would be $100 in gas instead of $1,500 or $2,000 for a charter flight," he said.

Hassan aimed to clarify the main purpose for the road and suggested it could be a long-term project.

"If the purpose is to find work, employment and hope for people, then let's spend whatever small amount of money to get the work started. In this case, the completion of the road becomes a long-term objective," he said.

"Then it becomes arbitrary," Newmark shot back.

"Under that scenario why not (slate the road for completion in) 100 years."

Still, with cutbacks, the GNWT may be more likely to give a go-ahead to spreading their financial commitment over more years, said senior transportation planner Russell Newdorf.