A City of Whitehorse official says building a second bridge to Riverdale isn’t likely to happen any time soon.
Mike Gau, the City’s director of development services, was commenting on Riverdale North MLA Scott Kent’s motion in the legislative assembly this week to consider an alternate access and second bridge into Whitehorse’s biggest subdivision.
“We’re looking at other options before we would look at building another bridge,” Gau said.
The City has been focused on its Transportation Demand Management Plan, which the city adopted in 2014, he said. One of the goals is to reduce the number of people who drive themselves to work from the current 75 per cent to 50 per cent in the next 25 years.
It encourages Whitehorse residents to bike, carpool, walk or use public transit to work, as opposed to driving their own vehicles.
Riverdale’s congestion issues are well known. With five schools and over 5,000 residents, the neighbourhood’s commuters are often stuck in traffic during most mornings and evenings. Kent said he’s been hearing from a lot of constituents that they’d like to see a second bridge to Riverdale.
“Especially in the case of an emergency, going back to 9/11,” he said.
“I was a Riverdale resident at the time and there were concerns there might be issues with the two planes that were coming into Whitehorse. There are some important facilities in Riverdale, the hospital being one of them.
“I wanted to start a conversation with stakeholders and I think it’s time to have that discussion.”
Those stakeholders include the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, the Ta’an Kwach’an Council, the City of Whitehorse, the Yukon Hospital Corporation, the Riverdale Community Association and school councils, he said.
Gau said the City has considered the option of a second bridge to Riverdale in the past.
About 10 years ago, members of council looked at the possibility of extending Industrial Road across the Yukon River to the area north of Long Lake.
After Whistle Bend, it’s one of two areas the City will be looking at expanding, along with the McLean Lake area, Gau added.
“It wouldn’t have helped with congestion but it would provide a second access to the hospital and the subdivision,” Gau said.
At the time, an engineer determined the cost for that bridge would be around $16 million. Today, it would be more than double that, Gau said.
Another possibility would be adding a third lane to the Robert Campbell Bridge. But the way it’s built today, it wouldn’t be able to handle a third lane - meaning it would have to be torn down and rebuilt, Gau added.
“Improvements to either side of the bridge would also have to be made, and I don’t know how technically possible that would be,” he said.
“We recognize there are some congestion issues in the mornings and evenings, but it’s not for a very long period of time. It would be a very large investment to solve a problem that doesn’t last very long.”
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