A 360-foot rail bridge spanning the Steen River, which burned down in May is being rebuilt by CN Rail.
The bridge was burned as the Jackpot Creek wildfire expanded to more than 75,000 hectares in size and moved north rapidly, prompting the evacuation of Indian Cabins and coming within 20 kilometres of the NWT-Alberta border.
In addition to shutting down the highway between Alberta and the NWT for several days, the fire also burned the rail bridge which links Alberta’s railway network to Hay River.
The rail bridge allows essential goods, including fuel, to move north. The fire burned the bridge and warped the rails.
“[The rail line] plays a key role in the transportation of fuel and other essential goods that are forwarded by truck and barge to communities and industries throughout the NWT, and across the Western Arctic,” industry minister Wally Schumann stated in a news release on Tuesday.
Schumann had earlier told MLAs the movement of Imperial Oil fuel was being diverted by truck, while Imperial agreed to foot the bill, leaving the territorial government paying only the original costs of shipment by rail.
Fuel arriving in Hay River is loaded onto barges supplying 16 NWT communities which rely on diesel generators.
CN will rebuild the approaches to the bridge on either side of the river with concrete and steel, and replace the bridge deck across the river.
The project is expected to be completed by mid-August, together with funding from Imperial and Suncor.