Winter roads in Sahtu Region to be extra busy this year

A 2015 Winter Road Photo of a Ventures West Truck heading to the Diamond Mines.

A significant increase in large truck traffic moving fuel and cargo to the Sahtu Region this winter has prompted the GNWT to caution drivers to follow safety precautions with extra vigilance.

Last summer’s wildfires and low water levels along the Mackenzie River threw a monkey wrench into the Marine Transportation Services, or MTS, barging season schedule in the Northwest Territories, say officials from the Infrastructure Department.

Tulita, Norman Wells and Délı̨nę are communities which saw barge shipment disruptions last summer, with those missing supplies now to be trucked on the 482-kilometre long Wrigley-Fort Good Hope Winter Road.

An ice road in the NWT. (CKLB file photo.)

Residents and commercial drivers to reminded to drive safe, keep a close eye on weather and highway conditions and be prepared for the unexpected challenges, Infrastructure Department spokesperson Tami Johnson stated in a release.

“Please remember cellular service is limited or non-existent along some sections of NWT highways and winter roads, and that longer emergency response times can be expected,” she stated.

The Infrastructure Department is taking several precautions, including widening the winter road where possible; removing trees and deadfall caused by wildfires; and refreshing kilometre signage markers.

It’s also increasing maintenance, highway patrols and emergency fuel availability; along with enforcing speed limits with check stops.

Winter roads link 12 fly-in communities in the NWT, giving them temporary access to the outside world.

Here are some steps the GNWT urges residents and commercial drivers to take to plan for winter driving:

  • Check the Highways Conditions Map (see sample below) before travelling.
  • Share your travel plans before you depart, including when you’re leaving, what route you’ll be taking and when you plan on arriving.
  • Prepare a winter survival kit, extra fuel and a spare tire, especially for long trips.
  • Make sure that every passenger in the vehicle has warm winter clothes available.

Don’t drive while using a hand-held electronic device nor while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.

About the Author

James O'Connor
James O’Connor joined CKLB 101.9 FM at the start of 2024, after working as a journalist, photo editor and managing editor at newspapers in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. James also has experience in politics, arts, service clubs and the NWT’s non-profit sector. At this point in his lengthy career, James is thrilled to be working at such a unique media outlet and always welcomes notes from listeners at: