This illustration shows the proposed plans for new traffic signals at Fourth Avenue and Main Street. (City of Whitehorse)

This illustration shows the proposed plans for new traffic signals at Fourth Avenue and Main Street. (City of Whitehorse)

City signals improved crossing for Fourth Avenue and Main Street

Traffic calming, better sightlines would come with new lights

A proposal to install new traffic signals at Fourth Avenue and Main Street in downtown Whitehorse could make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the busy intersection.

On April 19, City of Whitehorse engineering manager Taylor Eshpeter recommended that council approve the procurement for the new traffic signal system.

If it goes ahead, the project would see reconstruction of the signals, “including rebuilding and extending the bulb-outs at each corner of the intersection to improve traffic calming and increase the pedestrian realm at this intersection.”

He pointed out in order to install the bases for the new light poles, the sidewalk at each corner will be disturbed, thus giving the city an opportunity to rebuild the corners in a way that is more pedestrian-friendly, reduces crossing distances and improves sightlines for drivers.

The current signals, Eshpeter said, are among the original sets of traffic lights to be installed in Whitehorse in 1979. While they’ve been updated over the years, Eshpeter said they’re now at the end of their useful life and need to be replaced.

The new system is planned to have stronger poles and new hardware with wireless pushbuttons, and will be activated by side street traffic.

If council approves going ahead with the procurement, the tender would be released in May with a contract to be awarded in June, the same month work would be anticipated to get underway. It’s expected the new signals would be in place by September.

It will be the responsibility of the contractor to come up with a plan that deals with accommodating traffic during construction. The plan must be approved by the city prior to work getting underway.

Eshpeter also confirmed, when questioned by Coun. Kirk Cameron, that emergency vehicles will continue to be able to activate the signals.

Cameron was among a number of council members emphasizing the importance of making the crossing as user-friendly as possible, calling for audible and visual signals that provide a countdown for those crossing the intersection.

A number also said they’re pleased to see improvements that will benefit those who use active transportation.

“I’m really happy to hear and to see the aspects around accessibility and active transportation and pedestrians be included here,” Coun. Mellisa Murray said.

Council will vote whether to go ahead with the procurement at its April 25 meeting.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at