The bridge over Frank Channel in Behchokǫ̀. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
Transport Canada and the NWT government on Friday announced a combined $50 million in funding toward the replacement of the Dehk’è Frank Channel Bridge in Behchokǫ̀.
The federal government said it will contribute $37.5 million for the project through the National Trade Corridors Fund, while the territorial government will provide the remaining $12.5 million.
The NWT’s infrastructure minister, Diane Archie, acknowledged the 61-year-old bridge had “reached the end of its life.” The territorial government has planned since at least 2018 to replace the bridge, but only now has the funding to do so.
The Frank Channel Bridge forms part of the sole highway connecting the North Slave and various mines to the rest of Canada.
“The new bridge will be able to support heavier loads and larger – wider and taller – commodities, making the region more accessible,” a news release stated.
Chief of Behchokǫ̀ Clifford Daniels said the bridge was a “critical piece of infrastructure for the Tłı̨chǫ people living in Mǫwhì Gogha Dè Nı̨ı̨tłèè, and all people who live in the North Slave region.”
Daniels said the area had been a “bottleneck” and the upgrades would likely offer people “better access to the North.”
Archie said construction is expected to begin in 2022 and take two years to complete, with the new bridge scheduled to open to traffic in December 2024.