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
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
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 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.