The Government of the Northwest Territories is moving forward with the Tlicho all-season road to Whatì as it begins the formal procurement process for the long-awaited project. 

RELATED: Federal funding announced for 97-km all-season road to Whatì

A request for qualifications (RFQ) was released by the territorial government Monday, calling for bidders to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the 97-kilometer road from Highway 3 to the community of Whatì.

The RFQ was expected to be released in February.

The successful bidder will be awarded the 29-year contract. How much the road will cost has yet to be announced, though previous reports have estimated costs to come in around $150 million.

The RFQ is the first move in procuring the road project through a public-private partnership (P3), through which up to 25 per cent of the project’s cost will be covered by the federal government.

However, the funding is conditional upon the project going through an environmental assessment, the RFQ and a subsequent request for proposal (RFP) process.

Interested parties submit responses to the RFQ and indicate their interest and qualifications for the project. Up to three proponents will be selected, at which point they’ll move on to the remaining assessments.

Local employment

The first four years of the government contract will be for construction, with the rest covering year-round maintenance and operation of the road.

Several hundred workers are expected to be employed during construction. Once completed, numbers will drop significantly to around 10 to 12 full-time employees.

When the project was announced in January, the GNWT was working with the Tłı̨chǫ government to determine what percentage of the winning contractor’s employees should be from the local region.

At that time, the contract was not expected to be awarded until the summer of 2018.