The NWT government and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation this week celebrated the reopening of a bridge connecting the reserve and other South Slave communities to Hay River.
Highway 5’s Kátł’odeh Bridge – “willow grass river” in Dene Yati, in reference to the Hay River, which it spans – officially opened on Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and drum prayers.
While the bridge opened to traffic in November 2019, officials weren’t able to hold a ceremony until this week due to the pandemic.
“The Ká tł’odeeche Fırst Nation thanks the Government of the Northwest Territories and Government of Canada for funding the reconstruction of this important bridge, which supports all season road access to all parts of the NWT and Canada for the people of the Hay River Dene Reserve, Fort Resolution, and Fort Smith,” Kátł’odeeche First Nation Chief April Martel said in a statement.
“We are also very pleased to have the traditional Dene name of the river that the bridge crosses, Kátł’odeh, formally used and recognized. ”
The previous Hay River to Pine Point bridge was built in 1965 and demolished in 2019. During construction of the $14-million new bridge, traffic was diverted to an adjacent decommissioned CN rail bridge.
The territory’s Department of Infrastructure says the Kátł’odeh Bridge is wider than the old bridge (10 metres compared to 7.2 metres), has an open deck, and can better accommodate modern, heavier vehicles. The new bridge is expected to last more than 75 years.