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Chipsealing improves several routes in South Slave
Work done on roads to Smith, Res and Hay River Reserve

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, September 12, 2011

This summer has seen significant improvements to highways in the South Slave.

NNSL photo/graphic

The road to the Hay River Reserve features brand-new chipseal, which is among a number of improvements over the summer to routes in the South Slave. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

There has been chipsealing work on Highway 5 to Fort Smith, Highway 6 to Fort Resolution and the road to the Hay River Reserve.

Depending on the weather, the work is expected to wrap up in the middle of this week with the completion of a project on Highway 5.

On that highway, 45 km of new chipseal has been added, said Naheed Ahmad, head of design and construction for highways with the territorial government's Department of Transportation.

That will extend the chipsealed section of the highway west from Little Buffalo River Falls Territorial Park, which is about 50 km from Fort Smith.

Ahmad noted eight km of the previously chipsealed section from Little Buffalo River Falls Territorial Park to Salt Mountain will by overlaid with new chipseal.

The project on Highway 5, which began in 2008 with reconstruction, has cost about $7.9 million overall, including the $1.5 million in chipsealing this year.

Ahmad said this summer's work leaves about 64 km of Highway 5 unchipsealed.

Fort Smith Mayor Janie Hobart said she drove on the newly-chipsealed section of Highway 5 on Sept. 7.

"It's very nice," she said. "It doesn't quite go to the grader station, but pretty close. That's an additional 40-plus km that we're able to drive on a nice smooth surface. It's beautiful right now."

Hobart noted the town is anxiously awaiting an agreement between Parks Canada and the territorial government that will mean funding to complete the chipsealing.

On Highway 6 to Fort Resolution, 29 km of additional chipseal has been added to the route from the community westward.

The work was completed on Sept. 3.

That follows reconstruction of 24 km of the highway last year and five km this year.

In addition, there was chipseal overlay placed on a two-kilometre section of previously chipsealed highway closer to Pine Point.

"This year's work was worth $2 million," said Ahmad of the Highway 6 improvements. "Last year's project was started in 2009 and continued up to 2010. It was a two-year project from Little Buffalo Bridge to Res."

The work in the previous two years cost approximately $5 million.

The work on Highway 6 leaves about 34 km of gravel road.

Ahmad noted future work on Highway 5 and 6 depends on additional funding and there are no concrete plans for more work next summer.

"We will keep working in house and my section will keep working on the engineering and design part of the work, but construction will depend on the budget allocations," he said.

As for the road to the Hay River Reserve, 8.5 km was chipsealed to New Village in late August.

The chipsealing and foundation work last year cost roughly $900,000 in a joint venture between the GNWT and the development corporation of K'atlodeeche First Nation.

Scotty Edgerton, the chief executive officer with the First Nation, said people on the reserve are ecstatic the road has been chipsealed.

Edgerton noted it will improve driving safety, reduce the number of broken windshields from flying rocks and may even increase business for Ehdah Cho Store on the reserve.

In addition to all the recent work, earlier this summer a 26-kilometre chipsealed section of Highway 5 from Hay River eastward was overlaid with new chipseal.

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