Highway upgrade needed now
Councillors want public to let GNWT know views

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 09/98) - A city politician says speeding up planned upgrades on the highway between Rae and Yellowknife would benefit all involved.

Coun. Bob Brooks briefed members of city council on a recent meeting between the city and GNWT officials over the highway's upgrade plans. Currently set to be completed over eight years, Brooks says it makes more sense to be done over two or three years.

"I believe it should be done in two (or) three years, and can be done cheaper," he said.

Brooks said today's low interest rates make it cheaper to borrow funds for such a project now. He said the necessary blasting work can be done 12 months of the year, creating employment in a sector normally dormant in winter and that this sort of work will require training needed in the mining field.

Other benefits the upgrade would bring include improved road safety and tourism.

Brooks also said completing the work now could also benefit the chance of a Diefenbakeresque "Roads to Resources," linking the area to northern mining properties, to head north from Yellowknife rather than Rae, as some have called for.

Earlier this year, the GNWT's Department of Transportation set aside $2 million to study the North's four road corridors.

Brooks is calling on city residents to let the Department of Transportation know of their feelings on the project.

He made his comments at a city committee meeting Monday.