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WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is asking the Liberal government to provide an update on the estimated timelines and budget for the Nisutlin Bay Bridge project.
Teslin residents recently found out that the main contractor has demobilized the worksite for the winter and will not be continuing until later in the year. Employees, subcontractors, and suppliers have previously indicated that they anticipated work on the bridge would continue throughout the winter. It now appears only a skeleton crew of employees will maintain the Teslin worksite until work resumes.
This follows reports last fall that the territorial Liberals tendered and awarded the project before all necessary permits and licences were in place to begin work, putting the project behind schedule.
“We continue to hear from the community that the Liberals have mismanaged the Nisutlin Bay Bridge project,” said Highways and Public Works critic Stacey Hassard. “In the fall, the Minister had claimed all permits were in place and work was on time and budget. This is the largest capital project in the Yukon’s history and Yukoners are rightly concerned that any delays will only drive the price higher in the long term.”
Given the reports that work is halting, Hassard indicated that the Minister should provide an update on how this affects the cost and timeline for the overall project and how this affects subcontractors and suppliers who were supporting the work. In addition, he is again requesting the Minister confirm that the Liberal government had secured all necessary permits and licences for the project to proceed when the tender was awarded on May 5, 2022.
“This Liberal government has had a poor record on procurement and managing capital projects, so we had serious concerns about their ability to properly manage the largest capital project in the Yukon’s history,” Hassard added. “In the fall, the Minister suggested everything was fine with the Teslin bridge project. However, that now appears to be incorrect, and an update is required.”
The Liberal government awarded the Nisutlin Bay Bridge project for $160 million on May 5, 2022, far more than estimated by the previous Minister of Highways and Public Works who claimed the project would cost ‘somewhat north’ of $25 million in 2019. The price tag is far more than the 2022-2023 five-year capital plan that identifies $75 million to $87 million for the bridge. That budget shortfall is not yet reflected in public budget documents.