“Engineers should have a focus to ensure that the public’s money is spent in a responsible manner. From an engineer’s perspective, it means our designs should consider the overall life cycle of a project, not just the initial construction cost.” - Graham Wilkins, Project Director

The Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway, engineered collaboratively by Tetra Tech and Stantec, was opened in the fall of 2017. Its completion marked the first connection of the rest of Canada’s highway system to the Arctic Ocean and fulfilled a strategic mandate of the governments of the Northwest Territories and Canada dating back to the 1960s. Graham Wilkins, Project Director, Northern and Pacific Transportation for Tetra Tech, says that the project’s biggest contributions to engineering relate to the design and construction of roads and bridges in a thaw sensitive continuous permafrost environment. As this was the first public highway in Canada constructed in this environment, the design team had to address challenges ranging from determining how to aggrade the permafrost into the base of the embankment to ensure a stable foundation; to developing methodologies for placement of embankment and culvert backfill in frigid winter conditions with variable silty borrow material; to the design of bridge foundations using ad-freeze piles that needed both to consider creep considerations and measures to ensure a frozen soil interface bond should the climate continue to warm.

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