Backgrounder: History in the making: Completion of the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway links Canada from coast to coast to coast 


The completion of the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH) has been a long standing goal of the Town of Inuvik, the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk and the residents of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region since the 1960s.

The project was made possible thanks to a contribution of $200 million from the Government of Canada, and $99 million from the Government of the Northwest Territories. The 137-kilometre long ITH, constructed over a five year construction period, has now become a reality.  

The new all-weather road will help mobilize people in the Northwest Territories, and deliver numerous regional economic and social benefits.

On a national level, it is the last piece in a highway system that links Canada from coast to coast to coast, connecting the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic region to the rest of the country.

The first construction season started in the winter of 2014 and the final grading and surfacing work and installation of traffic signs and guardrails were finished this fall. The majority of construction activity took take place during winter months to preserve the permafrost.

In addition to providing funding for the ITH, the federal and territorial governments worked closely together to ensure that environmental impacts of the project were managed appropriately.

On April 8, 2016, the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories celebrated the historic joining of the north and south construction spreads.

Employment and training:

  • The project employed just over 600 individuals at the peak of construction, 74 per cent of whom were residents of the Northwest Territories, and also brought 40 long-term jobs to the North.
  • The project has delivered training to approximately 185 individuals, including training for Class 1 and 3 drivers, equipment operators, summer students, and apprentices. A total of 70 individuals also received training using simulators to operate rock trucks, graders, and excavators.
  • 350 workers received Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and Transportation and Dangerous Goods (TDG) training, Fire Extinguisher training, and Driver Safety training.
  • 225 workers were trained with On-The-Job training (OJT) and Assets funding.
  • 285 workers were trained using equipment simulators.
  • 3 workers were in the apprenticeship program.


  • There are several ongoing research projects along the ITH, including sentinel permafrost monitoring sites, deep fill test sections, and ecological recovery in northern borrow pits.
  • The study of permafrost is of particular interest to researchers in the North. The sentinel permafrost monitoring network, which consists of over 70 ground temperature monitoring locations, has been put in place to collect data from the environment along the ITH.
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