Highway Upgrades

Your opinion matters to us, and we need to hear from you. Below, there are tabs to ask a question or even map your ideas.

The Alaska Highway through the Hillcrest commercial area is an actively used section in the City of Whitehorse, with commercial, industrial, and residential traffic, as well as pedestrian and cyclist activity. Currently, the number of uncontrolled accesses in this area result in conflicting traffic patterns, and unsafe conditions for all travellers.

The project is scheduled to begin in spring of 2020 and involves closing the current highway accesses, routing onto a frontage road, accessed

Your opinion matters to us, and we need to hear from you. Below, there are tabs to ask a question or even map your ideas.

The Alaska Highway through the Hillcrest commercial area is an actively used section in the City of Whitehorse, with commercial, industrial, and residential traffic, as well as pedestrian and cyclist activity. Currently, the number of uncontrolled accesses in this area result in conflicting traffic patterns, and unsafe conditions for all travellers.

The project is scheduled to begin in spring of 2020 and involves closing the current highway accesses, routing onto a frontage road, accessed by new signalized intersections at either Wasson Place or Burns Road (there is a discussion!) and an upgraded and signalized intersection at Hillcrest Drive.

Click image to enlarge.

The Guiding Principles for increasing the safety of the highway, and how these will be met through these upgrades, are as follows.

  1. decrease opportunities for vehicle, pedestrian, and cyclist conflict
    • reduce the number of accesses to the highway
    • route local traffic onto a new frontage road
    • reduced highway speed to 60km/hr
  2. provide safe access on and off the highway
    • additional thru- lanes
    • two vehicle-actuated and pedestrian-enabled signalized intersections
    • designated turning lanes
    • reduced highway speed to 60km/hr
  3. safe passing around slow vehicles
    • additional thru-lanes
    • reduced highway speed to 60km/hr
  4. safe crossing opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists
    • pedestrian-enabled signalized intersections with designated crossing
    • long maximum green lights to optimize vehicle gaps and allow time for pedestrians and cyclists of all ages and abilities
    • reduced highway speed to 60km/hr
  • Pedestrian Crossing at Hillcrest Drive

    5 days ago
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    There are numerous factors that influence safety upgrades on the Alaska Highway through Hillcrest, and the safety of pedestrians and cyclists is a key consideration throughout this process.

    Presently, this section of highway experiences between 5700 and 7000 vehicles per day (low season and high season respectively). Interestingly, highway traffic volumes are greater south of Robert Service Way, indicating many commuters head into downtown areas prior to this particular stretch of highway.

    The current posted speed limit through Hillcrest is 70km/hr, however, over 90% of motorists are speeding through this area, with an average speed upwards of 94km/hr as reported...

    There are numerous factors that influence safety upgrades on the Alaska Highway through Hillcrest, and the safety of pedestrians and cyclists is a key consideration throughout this process.

    Presently, this section of highway experiences between 5700 and 7000 vehicles per day (low season and high season respectively). Interestingly, highway traffic volumes are greater south of Robert Service Way, indicating many commuters head into downtown areas prior to this particular stretch of highway.

    The current posted speed limit through Hillcrest is 70km/hr, however, over 90% of motorists are speeding through this area, with an average speed upwards of 94km/hr as reported at Lodestar Lane.

    It is well-understood that a pedestrian crossing at Hillcrest Drive is a necessity for the safety of all users of the highway. But simply putting a pedestrian crossing without due consideration of the traffic behavior of the area can be more detrimental than the current conditions. Both Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) and the Yukon government have articulated principles for designing pedestrian crossings, and it is these documents that are heavily referenced in the design of the safety upgrades through Hillcrest.

    Want to know more about the various options for pedestrian crossings, the benefits and challenges of each?

    Please take a moment to read the provided technical memo, and feel free to ask questions to find out more!


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  • What We Heard!

    14 days ago
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    The results of the Alaska Highway User Engagement Survey have been analyzed, and some interesting input was shared by those who participated.

    The purpose of this survey was to determine how you wanted to be engaged.... online, in-person, and in what format.

    Further, some of the questions sought to determine how you used the highway, as this information influences how you want to be engaged!

    The results are available here. Enjoy!

    The results of the Alaska Highway User Engagement Survey have been analyzed, and some interesting input was shared by those who participated.

    The purpose of this survey was to determine how you wanted to be engaged.... online, in-person, and in what format.

    Further, some of the questions sought to determine how you used the highway, as this information influences how you want to be engaged!

    The results are available here. Enjoy!

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  • Pedestrian System Connectivity

    20 days ago
    Ped xing

    Ever wonder why different structures and lights are chosen at specific pedestrian crossings? How about the importance of thoughtful assessments of traffic data (operating speed and numbers), a pedestrian’s ‘sense of security’ and driver expectations?

    The Yukon Supplement to the Pedestrian Crossing Control Guide is a great resource for many of your questions.

    In short, it is recommended that in the vicinity of the airport, a safe pedestrian crossing is at a signal controlled intersection. HPW is using this manual, and a consideration of public costs, to guide the design decisions to maximize safety for all users of the highway.

    ...

    Ever wonder why different structures and lights are chosen at specific pedestrian crossings? How about the importance of thoughtful assessments of traffic data (operating speed and numbers), a pedestrian’s ‘sense of security’ and driver expectations?

    The Yukon Supplement to the Pedestrian Crossing Control Guide is a great resource for many of your questions.

    In short, it is recommended that in the vicinity of the airport, a safe pedestrian crossing is at a signal controlled intersection. HPW is using this manual, and a consideration of public costs, to guide the design decisions to maximize safety for all users of the highway.

    Have more questions? Share your question or idea here, or come down September 12 to the Fireweed Market and stop by our table!

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  • Welcome, watch or ban: how should cities deal with electric scooters?

    about 1 month ago
    Gaurdian

    The ‘arrive first, ask later’ tactics of scooter hire companies has riled cities around the world – but the tech bros seem to be learning a lesson.


    People ride e-scooters in Santa Monica, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

    Just four days after dockless electric scooters hit the streets of Omaha, Nebraska, last month, police started to threaten users with tickets...

    The ‘arrive first, ask later’ tactics of scooter hire companies has riled cities around the world – but the tech bros seem to be learning a lesson.


    People ride e-scooters in Santa Monica, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

    Just four days after dockless electric scooters hit the streets of Omaha, Nebraska, last month, police started to threaten users with tickets for riding on the sidewalk. Instead of zipping along, riders were shown on a local news channel wheeling the Lime hire scooters along the wide pavements of Old Market.

    Read more here!


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  • Roundabouts or Intersections? That is the question!

    about 1 month ago
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    When the volumes on the roadways are relatively equal, a roundabout can reduce delays, because half of the time a full stop would be required.

    Roundabouts can increase delays in locations where traffic would otherwise often not be required to stop.

    For example, at the junction of a high-volume and a low-volume road, traffic on the busier road would stop only when cross traffic was present, otherwise not having to slow for the roundabout.

    In this case the Alaska highway has about 6 times more traffic compared to the airport access and would experience unnecessary delays.

    With a four lane...

    When the volumes on the roadways are relatively equal, a roundabout can reduce delays, because half of the time a full stop would be required.

    Roundabouts can increase delays in locations where traffic would otherwise often not be required to stop.

    For example, at the junction of a high-volume and a low-volume road, traffic on the busier road would stop only when cross traffic was present, otherwise not having to slow for the roundabout.

    In this case the Alaska highway has about 6 times more traffic compared to the airport access and would experience unnecessary delays.

    With a four lane cross section a 2 lane roundabout would be preferred for lane continuity, which is more complex for drivers to navigate.

    For more information, check out All About Roundabouts in our Library!


  • Alaska Highway User Engagement Survey - NOW CLOSED

    about 2 months ago
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    The Public Engagement Survey for the Hillcrest highway safety upgrades project is now closed.

    Yukon Highways and Public Works is mandated to address points of conflict along the Alaska Highway through the Hillcrest area. Your input into this design process is valuable, and we recognize that everyone uses the corridor differently.

    The purpose of this User Engagement Survey was to determine how you as users wanted to be engaged throughout this design process.

    The survey was open from May 24 through to July 30 and included both an online option as well as a paper survey option which was mailed to residents of Hillcrest in early June.

    Through this process, we received a total of 135 online responses and approximately 50 paper responses.

    The results of this survey are being analyzed, and will be posted early next week.

    This survey was to best design an engagement process that met the needs of highway users, and included options for both in-person and online events. Thank you to those who participated!

    Don't forget, this website will remain live well through construction in 2020 and beyond, so PLEASE use the various tools to Share your voice! Shape your highway!

    The Public Engagement Survey for the Hillcrest highway safety upgrades project is now closed.

    Yukon Highways and Public Works is mandated to address points of conflict along the Alaska Highway through the Hillcrest area. Your input into this design process is valuable, and we recognize that everyone uses the corridor differently.

    The purpose of this User Engagement Survey was to determine how you as users wanted to be engaged throughout this design process.

    The survey was open from May 24 through to July 30 and included both an online option as well as a paper survey option which was mailed to residents of Hillcrest in early June.

    Through this process, we received a total of 135 online responses and approximately 50 paper responses.

    The results of this survey are being analyzed, and will be posted early next week.

    This survey was to best design an engagement process that met the needs of highway users, and included options for both in-person and online events. Thank you to those who participated!

    Don't forget, this website will remain live well through construction in 2020 and beyond, so PLEASE use the various tools to Share your voice! Shape your highway!
  • OPINION | Widening the Alaska Highway is narrow-minded

    about 2 months ago
    Cbc logo

    The Yukon government is pushing ahead with its plan to widen the Alaska Highway through Whitehorse, despite it being unwanted and unneeded by the community.

    In 2015, the Yukon government's Department of Highways and Public Works launched its plan for widening the Alaska Highway through Whitehorse to four travel lanes plus numerous high-speed turning lanes. After the project was widely denounced by residents and the City of Whitehorse, the new highways minister said he was cancelling the project.

    Despite this, the Yukon government has continued to advance the highway expansion. The first phase of widening to four lanes (seven...

    The Yukon government is pushing ahead with its plan to widen the Alaska Highway through Whitehorse, despite it being unwanted and unneeded by the community.

    In 2015, the Yukon government's Department of Highways and Public Works launched its plan for widening the Alaska Highway through Whitehorse to four travel lanes plus numerous high-speed turning lanes. After the project was widely denounced by residents and the City of Whitehorse, the new highways minister said he was cancelling the project.

    Despite this, the Yukon government has continued to advance the highway expansion. The first phase of widening to four lanes (seven lanes total with turning lanes) is under construction now. Initial concepts for the next phase of four-laning the highway along the Hillcrest neighbourhood was shown to residents last month.

    At every stage of consultation, public sentiment has been largely negative and unsupportive of the project.

    One key issue is the project creates unneeded roadway capacity. Research suggests that increasing to four lanes should only occur once traffic reaches 18,000 to 20,000 vehicles per day, and not before. This is nowhere near the current volume on the Alaska Highway.

    The first phase of widening to four lanes is under construction now. Initial concepts for the next phase of four-laning the highway along the Hillcrest neighbourhood was shown to residents last month. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

    Projects in other cities around the world have shown that increasing road capacity makes traffic and congestion worse. The idea, called "induced demand," is that after supply increases, more of a good is consumed. This is clearly not something Whitehorse wants.

    Widening the Alaska Highway also goes against the government's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a study I co-authored some years ago, we determined that most of Yukon's emissions come from local motor vehicle usage.

    Most travel on the Alaska Highway through Whitehorse is local traffic: citizens travelling to and from home, school, shopping and work. As such, the Alaska Highway through Whitehorse is not a highway per say, but an urban roadway, and the territory would be better off taking an inclusive, community-focused approach.

    The Yukon government's auto-centric road design denies citizens choice.

    I would like to offer the Yukon Government an alternate proposal to its highway widening project — one where we design and build for sustainable transportation first.

    1. Start with designing pathways for pedestrians and cyclists. State-of-the-art, separated cycle and pedestrian infrastructure that is accessible to people of all ages and abilities actually costs less than a new, single motor vehicle lane.

    2. After this, design for public transit — how can the roadway be optimized for buses?

    3. Only after these, consider taxis, then accommodate trucks and lastly automobiles.

    This plan includes a safe, separated, direct and convenient cycle and walking route along the Alaska Highway. Crossings would be physically separated by gently sloped underpasses or overpasses and protected intersections elsewhere.

    I'm not dreaming up these ideas. This approach is common in northern Europe. In the Arctic steel mill town in Sweden where I studied mining engineering in the 90s, we could ride, walk and even kick-sled throughout the city, rarely crossing a road. In the city of Oulu, Finland, well north of Whitehorse, they snowplow the bike paths before the roadways.

    A design by the Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works shows possible upgrades to the Alaska Highway. (Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works)

    The Yukon government's auto-centric road design denies citizens choice. A significant portion of Whitehorse's population does not have the privilege of driving a car due to age, health limitations or economic circumstances. Parents do not feel safe letting their children cycle to school because there are no safe, connected routes for them. Yet, over the past 70 years, essentially all public spending has been exclusively for private automobile-oriented transportation. It is time that we correct this inequity.

    It's time for the Yukon government to start walking the talk. Let's not use transportation designs of the past to solve problems we don't have today. The territory should be a leader in sustainable design instead of building antiquated auto-centric expressways.

    This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

    About the Author

    Forest Pearson, P.Eng., was raised in the Yukon and has been a consulting environmental engineer for more than 20 years. He's part of a large extended family in Whitehorse, an active member of the Whitehorse Urban Cycling Coalition and overall sustainability 'enthusiast.'


  • LET'S TALK Hillcrest - Fireweed Market Pop-Up!

    2 months ago
    Hpw let's talk

    Members of the YG Highways and Public Works team will be on site at the Fireweed Market on Thursday July 18.

    Drop by! Share your voice!

    Participate in the Alaska Highway User Survey, browse the website, and share your ideas for the highway design process.

    See you there!

    Members of the YG Highways and Public Works team will be on site at the Fireweed Market on Thursday July 18.

    Drop by! Share your voice!

    Participate in the Alaska Highway User Survey, browse the website, and share your ideas for the highway design process.

    See you there!

  • Range Road CLOSED to the Alaska Highway

    2 months ago
    Cow logo

    Range Road is now closed south of Two Mile Hill. There is no access to the Alaska Highway via Range Rd opposite Sumanik Drive while road construction continues over the next few months.

    This affects 2 bus stops on South Range Road. Need to get to the area? Take the #5 Takhini Route and get off the bus at the Takhini Arena.

    Thanks for your patience while the Yukon Government Highways and Public Works contractors are working at improving the intersection!


    Range Road is now closed south of Two Mile Hill. There is no access to the Alaska Highway via Range Rd opposite Sumanik Drive while road construction continues over the next few months.

    This affects 2 bus stops on South Range Road. Need to get to the area? Take the #5 Takhini Route and get off the bus at the Takhini Arena.

    Thanks for your patience while the Yukon Government Highways and Public Works contractors are working at improving the intersection!


  • Alaska Highway Upgrades through Hillcrest - 2 Design Options presented

    2 months ago
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    Because of your input thus far, HPW has developed two design options for discussion over the coming weeks.

    We look forward to your input!

    Please head to the Discussion or Map pages to share your thoughts....

    AND, join us July 18, from 3pm to 7pm at the Fireweed Market. We will have a booth set-up with design drawings, sticky notes, and pens, and we want to hear from you!



    Because of your input thus far, HPW has developed two design options for discussion over the coming weeks.

    We look forward to your input!

    Please head to the Discussion or Map pages to share your thoughts....

    AND, join us July 18, from 3pm to 7pm at the Fireweed Market. We will have a booth set-up with design drawings, sticky notes, and pens, and we want to hear from you!