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The vision of an Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk gravel highway

PM visits the crew building a new road that will cut shipping costs to Tuk for essentials such as groceries by about $1.5-million a year

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod, left, arrive outside Inuvik, Northwest Territories, on Wednesday to tour the site of an all-weather road linking Canada’s Arctic coast to the south for the first time.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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The PM broke ceremonial ground on the Inuvik side of the 140-kilometre gravel highway, which will stretch to Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort Sea. The road is scheduled to be complete by 2018.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Building the two-lane roadway will be full of technical challenges, including many stream crossings, at least eight bridges and preserving permafrost to keep the ground under the road from sinking.

John Sopinski/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Harper and Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod. Completing an all-weather road to the Arctic coast has been on the northern wish list since the 1960s, when local residents began pushing for it.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Most of the work on the road has to be done in the winter. The road requires special construction methods aimed at protecting the all-important permafrost that will give it stability all year. Here, highway workers pose with the prime minister.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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In a photograph taken in November, graders prepare the road bed on the Tuktoyaktuk side of the project. Travel between Inuvik, a regional government and supply centre, and Tuk has been restricted to air in the summer and ice road in the winter.

Jeffrey Jones/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Harper credits former prime minister John Diefenbaker with the vision for the project. Ottawa promised to pay for half of the $300-million project in the 2012 budget, a commitment that has since grown to $200-million.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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The road is expected to cut the overall cost of living in the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk by $1.5-million a year. Tourism spending, meanwhile, is projected to increase by $2.7-million per year, as travellers with a taste for the North’s romanticism will come to “dip their toe in the Arctic Ocean.” To read more, see story at link below: Dream of a road to the Arctic Ocean takes shape

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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