Why is Highways and Public Works proposing so many projects in this area?

    The Yukon government is committed to investing in road infrastructure to ensure our roads are safe. That is why we are making safety improvements to the Alaska Highway within the City of Whitehorse.

    The main objective of these safety upgrades is to reduce the probability and potential for collisions and points of conflict. These points of conflict not only concern motorists, but also pedestrian and cyclists using the Alaska Highway.

    Why do we need a frontage road?

    Frontage or service roads support the guiding principal for design of a highway which is installing controlled accesses, spaced longer that 400 meters apart to ensure the safe flow of traffic on and off a highway for vehicles, transport trucks, pedestrians and cyclists.


    What is happening to the existing accesses onto the highway?

    Closing multiple accesses of a highway that runs through this community is required to improve safety by reducing opportunities for conflict. Providing a frontage or service road will allow for diverse traffic activity to flow safely and efficiently into and out of the Hillcrest commercial and residential areas.

    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.


    Does the design account for future projections?

    Yes, the design is based on 20-year traffic and population projections, using an average growth rate of 2% per year.

    Why do we need 4-lanes plus turning lanes?

    The traffic and collision analysis compounded with the current class of road, indicates that the traffic characteristics and existing geometry make for unsafe conditions. These analyses also take into account driver behavior when faced with frustrating conditions, such as a slow-moving semi-trailer, which frequently results in erratic and unsafe driver behavior. 

    Head to the Library page, to view the technical memo developed by CAP Engineering team related to this discussion!

    Can you provide data on the traffic forecast that shows the increased traffic warrants the 4-lane and intersection accesses?

    The traffic data and analysis included in the 2014 Functional Plan report developed by CH2MHill, and further supported by the 2017 Traffic and Safety Analysis Report provided by Paul De Leur, provide an accurate account of the current conditions in this section of the Alaska Highway. Based on this analysis, 4-lanes are warranted now based existing traffic volumes, irrespective of future projections. Current traffic counts are in progress (May 2019), and these results will be shared when available.

    Can you explain why 60km/hr will make a difference with the addition of the new lanes?

    Speed limits within the City of Whitehorse vary markedly, and can be confusing for both residents and tourists alike. For consistency, it is the approach of HPW to slow traffic from the weigh scales through to the current speed limit change by Bethany Church. Jurisdiction on speed limits and enforcement ultimately fall to the City of Whitehorse and RCMP respectively, and HPW and the City are working closely to ensure the safety of users is paramount in decision-making.

    You are increasing the width of the highway, how does this actually protect and increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists?

    Pedestrian and cyclists will now be provided the opportunity to cross the highway at two signalized intersections where they can stop traffic to safely cross. Further, dedicated trails off the surface of the highway will be maintained or added, as part of the project. 

    Why a barrier and not painted islands?

    Raised medians provide better direction and physical separation when left turn lanes are designed opposite one another. However, this project is in the conceptual design phase, and these details will be reviewed during the detailed design phase.

    What about a pedestrian underpass?

    Underpasses can be an effective mechanism for pedestrians and bicyclists to transit. A literature review indicates that pedestrians (and cyclists) may opt not to use an underpass if transit across the top of the road can be completed in the same amount of time. 

    Further too, there are challenges and benefits both to an underpass beneath the highway, ranging from user safety to maintenance and impacts to surrounding land use and utilities.

    More detail can be found in the provided memo

    Potential location for a pedestrian underpass

    Want more information? Ask a question and we will get back to you as soon as possible!



    Why not have the frontage road only on the east side of the highway?

    Based on the sketch I’ve grouped features into good, bad and neutral and added some initial comments:

    Benefits

    • Frontage road to Lodestar – access needs to be controlled between Hillcrest and Lodestar in the future, whether it be a frontage road or internal road depending on the development plan.

    Challenges

    • Access to centennial is still open – intersections are not permitted within 400m of eachother. This access is too close to Burns.
    • Closure of Hillcrest will force traffic through Burns – 2/3 of hillcrest traffic currently goes north. Will significantly increase traffic at Burns intersection (longer queues, signal times, etc.) Is Burns road built to handle additional traffic? Indirect route may not be preferred by residents.
    • South access to airport is open with no traffic signals. Traffic volumes are high enough here that this will still be an issue that may require signals – there is more traffic on the east leg (airport) vs the west leg (hillcrest).  
    • Location of pedestrian underpass will result in long structure due to requirement for turning lanes at airport.

    Neutral

    • Volumes will likely be too low at Lodestar to warrant traffic signals. Only 1/3 of hillcrest traffic goes south.
    <This question came via email from a member of the traveling public, who also provided a sketch of the idea, which will be shared pending approval from said individual, to clarify the question's intent.>