Highway Upgrades

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Yukon government Department of Highways and Public Works is proposing a series of safety upgrades through the Hillcrest commercial area along the Alaska Highway. The closures, and redirection of traffic onto a frontage road serves to eliminate uncontrolled access onto the highway. Further, signalized intersections at two select locations will provide pedestrians and cyclists a safe and controlled crossing opportunity, and support the overall reduction of speed through this area from 70km/hr to 60km/hr.

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

Do you have a question about the project? Don't hesitate to ask a question, and we'll get you an answer as soon as possible.

Please note that we are only able to respond during regular City operating hours, 8:00 am–4:00 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding holidays).

Question and Answers

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    The analysis is interesting, but I believe CAP's or HPC's, as the case may be, assumptions are flawed. The addition of traffic lights will slow traffic not a change in the speed limit, the current accident rate in the area is minimal, there are no REAL congestion issues, the addition of another through lane will increase speed not slowed by the traffic light, momentary stops due to turning trucks are infrequent and this whole project is an example of overbuild and poor analysis. The four iterations of the Alaska Hwy and Two Mile Hill intersection design are a case in point. Further to that, there appears to be an intention to increase the speed with which travelers pass through Whitehorse, contrary to government efforts to encourage them to stop and shop. As to a question - is it too late to stop the construction beyond the current southern extent of work to date and just put in a traffic light for Hillcrest folks to cross the road?

    sURPRIZED asked about 1 year ago

    Thank you for those comments!

    Information relevant to traffic patterns, volumes, motor vehicle related injury data and safety can be found be found here. Collision frequency and severity in this stretch of highway, combined with the Yukon forecasted population increases, and the highly diverse traffic types and respective needs, highlight the need for upgrades in this section. The project area presently has a posted speed limit of 70km/hr, with vehicles regularly traveling on average upwards of 90km/hr. Post-project, posted speed limits will be 60km/hr, from Lodestar Road all the way up to Bethany Church, where it presently transitions back to 70km/hr. While just putting a traffic light for Hillcrest folks to cross the road may seem like a simple solution, the analysis and information shared in the pedestrian crossing technical memo, the justification for a 4-lane configuration, and consideration for alternative crossing features, highlight the complexities and considerations for this project.


    Hope this helps :)

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    What is meant by the term: "two vehicle-actuated signalized intersections"? Does it mean that if I'm in a vehicle on Hillcrest Drive waiting for a green light in order to turn left this will not occur until either a second vehicle stops behind me, or until someone presses the pedestrian button to activate a green light?

    jgilpin asked about 1 year ago

    Great question!

    It means there are two (2) vehicle-actuated and pedestrian-controlled signals as part of this project.... one at Hillcrest Drive and the Alaska Highway, and one at Burns Road and the Alaska Highway.

    Vehicle-actuated / pedestrian-controlled signals are those that are triggered to change when prompted to do so, rather than on a scheduled system which could result in a green light for Hillcrest Drive (stopping traffic on the Alaska Highway) despite there being no traffic requesting it.

    Hope this helps! :)

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    Why is YG 'pushing ahead' (YG words on the home page of the project) with this upgrade of the AK highway, especially in/near the Hillcrest and Valley view areas, when the project has already been cancelled (on home page) because of dissatisfaction from users and desire to not have the changes? why? Why is the survey, only allowing 4 options for question 2? there is no option to write my concerns or select 'other'/different options? Limiting feedback with the current survey Why isn't the design plans updated, from feed back from the public meeting in June? We are being asked to comment, yet again, on the same plans, I have commented on twice already (with no changes to the plan being asked to comment on). First comments were the initially rollout of the plan (which had very little support) and again in June 2019. Speed is not monitored or enforced now; how is this going to change anything...people will go faster because of more thru lanes; lower speed limit may actually make it safer, with enforcement (not lights). If you must make any upgrades, How about a roundabout at Hillcrest drive and and tunnel at Hillcrest drive? It doesn't need the same amount of traffic coming onto a roundabout, from all access points...the roundabout at 4th avenue and Millennium trail (the SS Klondike) parking doesn't have equal traffic coming on, from the various access roads. This whole plan is changing the look and feel of the AK highway (historical road) and the entrance to Whitehorse. I feel that is very sad to be changing such an historical road, that many tourists travel, to say they have travelled and experienced it. It isn't something special to travel a highway that is like any other highway down south, is it? why were traffic counters put up to count traffic at the busiest time of the year? Counting traffic when there are 4 airlines arriving/departing from the airport and at the height of tourist traffic is falsifying the data...? It isn't a true picture of local/YG use of the highway. This volume of traffic is for only 2 or 3 months max a year, yet we are building a highway to accommodate this? How is that justifiable? Let's put the federal money to a better use, and build proper bike lanes and not hindering vehicles and locals by increasing travel time, due to having to wait at traffic lights; also traffic lights means increased idling which is increasing GHG's emissions. Let's use the money to fix the 3rd bridge on the Annie Lake Road (where is is needed) or use the money to increase RCMP presence (which is funded by YG). An access road is overkill and going to negatively affect many businesses. I feel it is going to cause frustration for travellers and locals and not make anything easier or safer. If YG is adamant to go ahead, inspite of residents/Yukoners not wishing the upgrades, when are we going to see a proposed plan, that reflects all the input that has already been provided? A traffic light at Hillcrest Drive, is going to increase the vehicle noise in Hillcrest itself, due to vehicles having to stop, stop longer, gearing up/down and increased idling I can hear the highway now, so making vehicles stop at Hillcrest Drive is going to increase that noise level. Would YG consider cancelling the upgrades and proposed plan? If not, why not?

    Alley Mapping asked over 1 year ago

    The news article spoke to some public responses during the 2014 Functional Plan, which provided the larger-view of safety upgrades to the Alaska Highway over a span of 30-years. Verbiage on the project page was extracted verbatim from the news article (linked to the site for reference). 

    Safety upgrades to the highway are necessary, with the Range Road Extension Project and the highway upgrades through Hillcrest being the first two major projects for the Alaska Highway through the City of Whitehorse. 

    The purpose of the Alaska Highway User Engagement Survey was to determine how Yukoners wanted to be engaged during this infrastructure project, from design through regulatory applications, and then on into construction. This website was developed to gather concerns and questions regarding the highway project.

    The conceptual design remains just that -- conceptual. As public input is received through this engagement process, the design team is refining the drawings.

    The engagement process is ongoing, and while the conceptual drawings may not appear to change, the design team is actively changing the detailed design as comments arise. These drawings will be presented in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

    Community comments and collision reports, indicate there are risks for pedestrians, cyclists, andvehicles.  Analysis of the collision data points to an over-representation of urban and high-volume related collision patterns (e.g., rear-end collisions and over-taking), as well as collisions with snow and ice road surface conditions and occurring at night (dark).  The data collected in the vicinity shows the average operating speed is well over the posted speed limit.  Data shows drivers will travel upwards of 20km/hr over the posted limit, and that driving conditions greatly influence this decision – road conditions, road geometry, signals, vegetation, adjacent lanes of traffic (either oncoming or same-direction), and presence and proximity of pedestrians and cyclists can all influence driver behavior. The decision to 4-lane the highway is based on traffic volumes and the type of highway (see 4-laning justification memo).  

    Enforcement is an important tool in managing speed and safety and the public engagement for the Motor Vehicle Act is closed now but did cover fees and fines, road user safety and enforcement technology.  A ‘what we heard’ document is pending.  Also following traffic data analysis and with consideration for the number of vehicles turning, signalized intersections are also warranted. 

    Roundabouts work well when the traffic flow from all directions is equal… during peak periods (i.e. mornings and afternoon/early evenings), the traffic entering and exiting the airport precludes the possibility of a roundabout.  Also, roundabouts do not create ‘gaps’ in the traffic so pedestrians or vehicles wishing to cross a travel lane at a nearby, uncontrolled intersection, may do so more safely. Further, the topography of the area, drainage, winter conditions, personal safety and cost of a tunnel at this location, precludes the possibility of a tunnel at Hillcrest Drive and the Alaska Highway.

    The Yukon is changing, and the proposed safety upgrades address current safety issues within this area, and seek to get ahead of future trends.  For Whitehorse City, in the most likely scenario (Preferred Projection), the population is projected to reach 40,600 in 2040, an increase of 12,004 people, or 42.0%, compared to 2018. Whitehorse’s population would represent 73.1% of Yukon’s total population in 2040, compared to 70.6% in 2018. It is the responsibility of the government to remain proactive in addressing safety issues and transportation for the benefit of all Yukoners, commercial as well as visitors. The highway network is essential to our lifestyle and economic diversity.

    As with any jurisdiction in Canada, Alaska Highway traffic data is standardized to an annual average daily traffic and volumes are adjusted for the time of year data is collected. Traffic data is collected along Yukon highways through a multi-year, data collection program.  In addition, in the spring of 2019, a traffic turning data collection station was set up to collect 48 hours of continuous data at the intersections of Hillcrest and Burns road. This data is used in signal warrants, left hand turn lane warrants and to model intersection traffic, should some highway accesses be closed. 

    Thank you for your comments! We trust these responses and the supplemental resources on the highway address your concerns.



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    how do you propose to enforce the 60 kph speed limit since there appears to be no enforcement of the 70 kph limit now? the problem often isn't the traffic volume but the traffic speed. there is often not enough time to get into the traffic pattern w so many speeding.

    Mary Whitley asked over 1 year ago

    Enforcement of speed is under the purview of the RCMP. Highways and Public Works is responsible for the design and building of a safe highway, considering so many aspects of driver behavior. Timing of the signals at the new intersections will be set by the City of Whitehorse, and we are actively working with them to ensure that there is sufficient time for traffic to get on and off the highway, particularly in peak hours.


    **Update: 

    Speed enforcement throughout the territory is already an issue that Yukon government is addressing within the Motor Vehicles Act rewrite, including jurisdictional scan. The rewrite will require provision changes to the Act, regulations and the Summary Convictions Regulations.  

    Timing will be in approximately four years, when regulations will be drafted and the entire legislative scheme (Act and Regs) comes into force.

    For your information in any case, a consolidated table of sanctions (fines and demerit points) is at http://www.hpw.gov.yk.ca/mv/mvdr_fines_points.html.  Relevant sections are 137-140.

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    The more I read through these questions and the FAQs the more confused I get. For example, there is a question here about two design options and the answer is that there will be a signalised intersection at either Burns Rd or Wassan. But on the FAQ page it states (quoted below) that the signalised intersection will be at Wassan. It often feels like there aren’t really choices up for debate in this process. « With this in mind, Hillcrest Drive will remain a primary intersection, and will be upgraded to include a signalized control for all traffic from the airport, on the highway, and Hillcrest residential and commercial areas. Further, there will be a new signalized intersection at Wassan Road and the Alaska highway, providing traffic a second access point on- and off- of the Alaska Highway and into the Hillcrest commercial area » In the same vein, when responding here to the question about enforcement of the 60k zone it is stated the speed enforcement is the responsibility if the RCMP. In the FAQs the discussion about speed refers to the city having jurisdiction in speed and enforcement. « Jurisdiction on speed limits and enforcement ultimately fall to the City of Whitehorse, and HPW and the City are working closely to ensure the safety of users is paramount in decision-making. » I suppose this is a comment more than a question but it is difficult to feel confident about this project when there are huge changes already happening and questions don’t feel accurately answered. Not because people are hiding things but it feels like there is a push to build now and sort the details later.

    JRoberts asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your note! Certainly, this conceptual design process is iterative, and you have highlighted where changes have occurred, and not all our resources are updated. We've made the language consistent, in the areas you have noted.

    To summarize the changes to date...

    1. Initially, the plan was for signalized intersections at Wasson and at Hillcrest. This initial design was presented in very high-level form at an Open House for the Range Road project earlier this winter (2019).

    2. Feedback from open houses, meetings with businesses, and public feedback, highlighted the need for us to consider a second option... an intersection at Burns and Hillcrest (and not Wasson).

    3. The engineering team has subsequently developed two options for consideration by users of the Alaska Highway and businesses and residents within the Hillcrest area.

    4. These drawings remain conceptual at this time, and the engineers will continue to alter and refine as this process moves forward.

    The project is not scheduled to move to a tender process until Spring 2020 with the project being divided into two phases (geographic phases),extending into Fall 2021, so this timeline should illustrate that we are trying to have the details sorted prior to construction next summer.

    Feel free to reach out again, or connect with any one of the team members listed over to the right, at "Who's Listening" and we will be more than happy to discuss things further.

    Thanks again!

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    The upgrades page (https://letstalkhillcrest.ca/highway-upgrades) talks about improving safety for pedestrians and bicycles. This is encouraging. The accompanying map shows no dedicated bicycle paths or pedestrian right of ways. Have you considered providing dedicated paths for pedestrians and cyclists in the area that feature physical barrier between motorized and non-motorized commuters?

    richard asked over 1 year ago

    Great questions! Yes to all of those things. Bear in mind that the drawings are conceptual, so that level of detail is still being worked out. As the drawings become more detailed, there will be a more clear picture of the spacing between trails and highway and frontage roads.

    If you can, drop by our booth on Thursday for the Fireweed Market! Happy to chat more about this there too :)

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    I keep seeing references to 2 design options, but I'm only seeing one. Both HPW_HILLCREST_ARC_PROPOSED_OUTLINES.pdf and Conceptual_Drawings_-_2_options.pdf appear to essentially be identical (and only contain one design each) - although they are oriented differently and the graphic design is different. Is the proposal that Burns Road won't connect to the frontage road? ANd that the North end of Norseman won't connect? I'm also curious how a frontage road would work with the Airport Chalet... the one document shows it going right over top. I really like seeing two full lanes in each direction on the main highway section - plus proper turning lanes. The current situation (asking faster vehicles to merge to the outside and then back in to pass) is abysmal. The proposed lane arrangements look good - but if there isn't enough space - which it really looks like there isn't - who is going to lose out? Pedestrians?

    Jpaleczny asked over 1 year ago

    Great questions! Thanks you for posting. There are two design options... a signalized intersection at Hillcrest and one at Burns Road.... and the second, a signalized intersection at Hillcrest and at Wasson... these two options are being considered, and are up for discussion :) 

    I can see how the files may be confusing, so I will get those separated and more clearly labeled. Stay tuned, and thank you again for that feedback!