Whitehorse Daily Star

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PROJECT MOVING FORWARD – The Yukon government is planning to begin reconstructing the Alaska Highway through the Hillcrest area this spring. The proposed project would see the highway widened and traffic lights installed at Hillcrest Drive and Burns Road. Inset Paul Murchison Drawing courtesy GOVERNMENT OF YUKON

Widened highway would spur property relocations

Major reconstruction of the Alaska Highway through the Hillcrest and airport area is scheduled to begin this spring, says a senior government official.

By Chuck Tobin on January 8, 2020

Major reconstruction of the Alaska Highway through the Hillcrest and airport area is scheduled to begin this spring, says a senior government official.

Paul Murchison of the Department of Highways and Public Works explained Tuesday the intent is to have the bulk of the project completed by next year.

The proposal was filed Monday for review by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.

Highway improvements through the Hillcrest area are part of the overall plan to upgrade the Alaska Highway from the Carcross Corner to the North Klondike Highway, according to the submission to the assessment board.

The three-kilometre Hillcrest segment involves closing several highway access roads between Lodestar Lane and Burns Road, including the access to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre coming off the highway.

Lodestar Lane is the access road into the Air North and Alkan Air hangars, and several other aviation properties. Burns Road runs past the north side of the Airport Chalet.

The highway access points will be replaced with frontage roads running parallel to the highway that are linked to expanded intersections controlled by traffic lights at Hillcrest Drive and Burns Road.

There will, for instance, be no more highway access coming off Roundel Road.

The front section of the Airport Chalet will have to be removed, as it is sitting in the highway right-of-way on land the business does not own.

And the gas bar will have to be relocated to some extent because a small section of the lot is needed to accommodate the expanded intersection at Burns Road.

There may be a need to relocate the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centre, and a sliver of the lot owned by North 60 in front of the SKKY Hotel is required.

“Yukon government continues to discuss the project with the North 60, Airport Chalet and the Salvation Army in support of changes in land ownership,” says the proposal.

The proposal notes the old maintenance shop and Air Canada hangar that are sitting on airport land on the east side of the highway may also have to be demolished and reconstructed elsewhere.

“Overall, the project includes the addition of lanes for both north- and south-bound traffic, and designated turning lanes,” say the proposal.

“Presently, the highway is currently two lanes (measuring about 11.7 metres wide), increasing to 16.4m at intersections. The proposed 4-laning will increase the width of the highway to 20.8 m, increasing to 35.2 m at the two new signalized intersections.”

The project calls for three-metre-wide, paved pedestrian and cycling trails running on both sides of the highway.

They will connect the Hillcrest residential and commercial sectors to the existing pedestrian trails running to the downtown, through Puckett’s Gulch where the Black Street stairs are located.

Pedestrians and cyclists will have the added safety measure of crossing the highway at the controlled intersections, the proposal points out.

Murchison, the acting assistant deputy minister of transportation, said the entire budget for the three-kilometre stretch from just south of Lodestar to north of Burns Road is $12 million.

He said he wouldn’t say how much is allotted specifically for construction because he did not want to affect the bid process.

Murchison said 2020 and 2021 will be focused on completing the work from just south of Lodestar Lane to the improvements made last summer that end where the new traffic lights are located.

It’s expected there’ll be some work left for 2022 on the northbound side of the highway to provide additional time to decide how best to deal with the old maintenance shop and Air Canada hangar, he said.

The proposal before the assessment board notes there has been a substantial effort to consult the public and business community about the project.

It also notes the engineering branch is committed to another public meeting in early February “from which comments and feedback may further influence design aspects of the project.”

Murchison said they do have plans to continue on with improvements to the highway from the Carcross Corner to the North Klondike Highway. At this point, however, nothing has been approved or budgeted for, he said.

Murchison said future improvements will be focused on intersections that have been identified as hot spots when it comes to safety.

Comments (29)

Up 0 Down 0

Guncache on Jan 14, 2020 at 4:55 pm

To "Davis", I don't have to leave for work earlier, I'm retired. Thinking about other people in the lineup. You're in the lineup more than 5 minutes.

Up 10 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Jan 14, 2020 at 2:25 pm

In my quest for better understanding and ability to conduct a conversation at a modern social gathering, I will ask: Won't all that continuous black asphalt ground cover absorb a tremendous amount of solar heat? What are the pro and con details on that?

Up 11 Down 6

My Opinion on Jan 13, 2020 at 10:02 pm

@Oya
I don’t think anyone would care, and would likely agree if it was just two lanes.
The problem is there will be a total of eleven lanes of pavement in front of the Airport. Four through lanes, three turn lanes, and two, two lane roads on both sides. Eleven lanes in total.
Do you not think that is WAY overkill?
In the winter you will only see two lanes as everyone just plays follow the leader through there and it goes back to a two lane road less then a km away. What a JOKE. The Chalet will pay.

Up 7 Down 7

Wilf Carter on Jan 13, 2020 at 8:47 pm

Just look at the increase in traffic accidents on this piece of highway. It should have been widened 6 years ago. More traffic more accidents.

Up 11 Down 10

Doug Martens on Jan 13, 2020 at 5:52 pm

Just another confirmation that the YTG is anti-business. Look how many businesses are being wrecked just so a highway contractor can create useless employment and we can blow more money that the federals don't even have. Also reducing access points will slow everything to a crawl. I definitely plan to further limit my visits to Whitehorse this summer. And to think, this was part of Larry's platform to get the precious liberals back in power. lol.

Up 16 Down 2

Max Mack on Jan 13, 2020 at 3:29 pm

How is it that a business is allowed to encroach on a right-of-way for decades without being ordered to comply with the law? Funny how preferential enforcement works in the Yukon . . .

In any case, 2-more traffic lights thanks to intensive lobbying by a handful of Hillcrest residents. A paved path adjacent to the highway, because, apparently, folks can't handle dirt trails anymore -- a paved path means that crews will be out plowing this paved path every single time it snows, just as in Riverdale and elsewhere. CO2 much? Then there is the millions in compensation that must be paid to all of these businesses affected by this bizarre plan.

And don't get me started on the City's sneaky lowering of traffic speeds all over town . . .

Up 21 Down 15

Oya on Jan 13, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Highway widening is long overdue. It is absolutely not safe with all the trucks and other vehicles turning into and out of Burns Rd at the highway. C'mon Yukon! Look how much traffic is on the roads now compared to 30 years ago and we still just have a single lane going each way. Let's move into the 21st century already!

Up 21 Down 9

Apex Parasite on Jan 13, 2020 at 11:19 am

Because money grows on trees and I can't abide slow downs on the highway that represent me getting to work 3 minutes later.
Sarcastic yes but honestly, stop pandering to the pampered and do something useful and helpful with my tax dollars.
Kinda wish I had a choice in how they were spent.

Up 20 Down 6

Davis on Jan 13, 2020 at 8:52 am

@Guncache - leave 5 min earlier for work. There, problem solved.

Up 11 Down 29

Werner Rhein on Jan 11, 2020 at 2:23 pm

The whole Highway widening was invented by the fracker to accommodate thousands of fracking trucks coming to the Yukon.
Teach people how to drive properly and you won't have accidents.
Build safe crossings for bikes and pedestrians.
Reduce the number of government employees who work all in the same areas in the City.
Give them shovels and hammers to build more houses.

Up 28 Down 9

More Carbon Please ! on Jan 10, 2020 at 10:51 pm

The ARC ( Salvation Army ) building is now defunct, ensuring the Organization is now entirely obliterated from the Territory (after the Center of No Hope was taken over last year). All employees given written notice. An utter disaster for this esteemed and longstanding Organization.

Up 21 Down 6

martin on Jan 10, 2020 at 10:04 pm

to Always Questions; The Airport Chalet changed ownership about 10 years ago, the new owners new the Bldg was encroaching onto the Hwy R/W and the banks don't finance such a business. A gamble?

Up 17 Down 10

Dave on Jan 10, 2020 at 12:44 pm

The diagram pictured in this story looks like it makes sense.

Up 41 Down 15

Highway Driver on Jan 10, 2020 at 12:18 pm

My biggest concern is of the speed limit! The proposal is to change this into a 4 lane highway to improve traffic and safety, yet the new portion already built, and proposed portion has a 60km posted limit!
60km/h on a 4 lane highway? That's ridiculous, it will do nothing to reduce congestion if people aren't able to drive any faster!

Up 27 Down 16

Always Questions on Jan 9, 2020 at 9:04 pm

I would have been happy with better highway airport signage, yup that wee little thing with an arrow (airplane), lol.
Negotiate HARD! Airport Chalet, a Yukoner owned and operated business for decades as a popular truck stop, fuel, food and lounge! The building itself ? Well, she's tired ya know? I'd be okay with supporting an up-dated and modernized Chalet with retained character, the photos, the fireplace, the pies ... who wants a Motel 8? Could that be a possibility? Yikes.
Meanwhile why are we even doing this? won't increased traffic capacity increase 'fossil fuel' usage by such increased traffic? Sounds like it's a done deal, can't wait to see how things play out...

Up 25 Down 6

Guncache on Jan 9, 2020 at 8:09 pm

If the liberal gov't wants to do some constructive highway work they should look elsewhere. Mon to Fri in the AM with people heading to work the traffic backs up as far as the KK. If there was 2 southbound lanes from there to the top of 2 Mile there wouldn't be such a traffic jam. At the intersection have 2 lanes turning down the hill. There are a number of south bound vehicles that are travelling through the intersection that are stuck in traffic.

Up 37 Down 5

Turn off the Lights on Jan 9, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Don't forget extra street lights. These are great for lining the Southern Family's (ATCO) pockets. There's over 90 of these at the cutoff all contributing to light pollution. Unnecessary spending.

Up 49 Down 6

Rob on Jan 9, 2020 at 3:49 pm

Does it make sense to have only one entrance/exit to the airport off the highway (at Hillcrest Drive)? They are closing the northerly (Burns Rd.) entrance entrance/exit off the highway and all other possible access points (Beringia, Transportation Museum, etc.) Congestion leaving airport after planes arrive? What if there's an accident at the single remaining intersection? Emergency access?

Up 50 Down 22

Groucho d'North on Jan 9, 2020 at 1:16 pm

I can't help thinking this is just another make work project designed to spend federal transfer dollars and keep some Yukoners working. I say this after watching the time, disruption and zero net benefit related to the road work a couple years ago at the Carcross cutoff area. Lots of rock blasting with dozers and trucks moving material from here to there. Guys in hi-vis vests and hard hats making orange paint marks on the gravel and pounding in grade stakes.
Yup, lots of jobs created for that project, but the road looks pretty much the same today as when they started the job. No real improvements made but lots of budget spent. I suspect the road improvement project up near the airport will result in the same.

Up 56 Down 9

Yukoner on Jan 9, 2020 at 9:44 am

Unless the City or YG is actually going to start plowing these properly after they are done it's doing to be a waste of money. Everywhere they have twinned already has basically turned into one lane and is more dangerous.

Up 34 Down 15

Davis on Jan 9, 2020 at 8:41 am

Wow that sounds expensive! What's the budget? A safe crossing for pedestrians is great but some of this sounds a little overkill. Where do pedestrians, say from Hillcrest, go after they cross the highway? Currently there is no walking/biking path in that area that parallels the highway...and there isn't much of a shoulder on the highway...

Up 60 Down 4

Olaf on Jan 9, 2020 at 7:50 am

Last chance for a beer in the original bar at the historic Airport Chalet.

Up 28 Down 30

Matthew on Jan 9, 2020 at 7:46 am

Great... sounds like more traffic lights on the HWY... build a damn pedestrian bridge.

Up 21 Down 43

Wilf Carter on Jan 8, 2020 at 10:57 pm

This project is way past due with all traffic accidents, people getting hurt and killed.

Up 35 Down 35

Guncache on Jan 8, 2020 at 8:13 pm

Typical Liberals wasting taxpayer money. Paul Murchison saying the front part of the Airport Chalet is sitting on the highway right of way it does not own. Back in the day when the military, Air Force and Army were here this was a military building and the highway was gravel. Mr Murchison, when did this building encroach on the highway right of way? There are other highway areas that require attention. The entire intersection at Two Mile Hill and the Alaska Highway is in need of replacement. When using the Alaska Highway and crossing the intersection there are definite ruts in the pavement. Very noticeable in a vehicle other than your regular family vehicle.

Up 23 Down 8

Miles Epanhauser on Jan 8, 2020 at 8:01 pm

GY is making the widening of the highway a top priority while the city's is developing trails for ATVs as their top priority.
It will perhaps be best to work together on this.

Up 39 Down 6

jc on Jan 8, 2020 at 5:02 pm

Great idea. Only about a year of inconvenience. Traffic is getting bad and needs to be addressed. Soon, the South Access/Robt. Service Way is going to need addressing too. Traffic jams every morning. However, just as a suggestion, maybe the YG buildings should be reconstructed somewhere else from downtown. Plenty of room up top.

Up 36 Down 11

brian on Jan 8, 2020 at 4:36 pm

Miles... you obviously haven't been following the outcry from Hillcrest residents about the intersections into the neighborhood. I don't live in Hillcrest but I do drive the highway twice every day. Lack of left hand turning lanes, large transport trucks and standstill traffic is a recipe for disaster.

Up 70 Down 68

Miles Hryniuk on Jan 8, 2020 at 3:40 pm

So much disruption and cost for what? I don't remember any outcry from the public for this project. Spend the money on helping folks with mental health problems and affordable housing. Please!

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