The new all-season road to and from Whatì will be known as Highway 9 or the Tłı̨chǫ Highway, the territorial and Tłı̨chǫ governments confirmed on Tuesday.
The 97-kilometre road connects Whatì with Highway 3 south of Behchokǫ̀. The road is expected to open in the fall of 2021, around two years after construction began.
Tuesday’s announcement in a joint statement formalized the future road’s name.
“Formerly known as the Tłı̨chǫ All-Season Road, the new name underscores the importance of this new highway for the Tłı̨chǫ region, which will provide year-round access to Whatì and increase the window of access for the winter roads to the communities of Gamètì and Wekweètì,” the statement read.
“Currently, the winter roads to Gamètı̀ and Wekweètı̀ can only open for the season after the winter road to Whatı̀ has opened, which is the winter road that is most vulnerable to fluctuating conditions. With an all-season road to Whatì, the winter roads to Gamètı̀ and Wekweètı̀ will likely open sooner and close later.”
According to the two governments, work on the road has so far employed 256 people, 109 of them local residents.
Formally designating the road Highway 9 fills a gap in the NWT’s numbering system. Highway 8 is the Dempster Highway while Highway 10 runs from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk.