The Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, a settlement north of the Arctic Circle on the shore of the Beaufort Sea, was looking to build a road. A road would provide new economic opportunities for residents and industry while encouraging tourism, strengthening community relationships, and decreasing the cost of living. Together with the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Department of Transportation, and the Town of Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk proposed a 140-kilometre, all-weather, two-lane, gravel highway: the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH).
Projects in Northern Canada face unique challenges because of their remote location and extreme weather. The ITH needed to sit on top of the permafrost, to prevent its exposure to warm air and protect the structural stability of the roadway. Bridges and drainage structures were designed to minimize fabrication on-site.
The ITH runs over both arctic tundra and boreal forest—some of the most rugged terrain in Canada and some of the most sensitive. To address this, the construction of the frozen embankment and bridge foundations occurred during the winter months to avoid damaging the underlying tundra. To protect the environment, culvert designers ensured the speed of water through the culverts was consistent with the physical abilities of the marine life.
When completed in 2017, the ITH will connect the community of Tuktoyaktuk with Southern Canada, fulfilling a national dream of connecting every coast in the country.