An artist’s rendering of the intersection planned for Hillcrest Drive and the Alaska Highway near the Whitehorse airport. Plans are to widened the highway to four lanes over a 1.5 kilometre stretch from just south of Hillcrest Drive to north of Burns Road. (Screen shot/letstalkhillcrest.ca)

YESAB issues decision on Alaska Highway plan

Work set to begin this year

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board has approved plans to widen the Alaska Highway through the Hillcrest area.

The 31-page document was released May 1 with four recommendations attached. Among them are traffic counts, monitoring vehicle speed and auditing collision prevention after the project is done, expected in 2022.

There’s also a recommendation to provide a report on how the rewritten Motor Vehicles Act will be implemented to increase road safety in the area.

In a May 5 statement, the Yukon government said it accepted the recommendations. It was noted the efforts would allow for a better understanding of who uses the roadway, as well as how and when the area is most used. That information will help inform future Yukon road projects, officials said.

“The Alaska Highway is a critical route for all Yukoners and we are pleased to be making upgrades that will slow traffic and increase safety for all users in the Whitehorse area,” Richard Mostyn, the territory’s minister of Highways and Public Works, said. “YESAB’s evaluation report is a testament to the strong work of our design team and we look forward to sharing the monitoring results with Yukoners.”

The plans are part of a larger project that have and will see more changes to the Alaska Highway in the Whitehorse area. This part of the project will see the highway widened to four lanes over the 1.5 kilometre stretch from just south of Hillcrest Drive to north of Burns Road near the access to the former adult rehabilitative centre property, frontage roads built to connect Hillcrest Drive and Burns Road as well as Electra Crescent to Lodestar Road with a number of intersections closed off.

The frontage roads will provide access to a number of businesses in the area such as Airport Chalet, Centennial Motors and the like.

There will also be two intersections with traffic signals at Lodestar Lane and Range Road that will help reduce speed and provide safe crossings for pedestrians and cyclists.

Paved multiuse trails will also provide connections to other trails.

The plans do not, however, provide for a tunnel underneath the highway for pedestrians and cyclists that many in Hillcrest were pushing for to address safety concerns in crossing the roadway.

Yeast’s report highlights a number of measures aimed at addressing those matters.

“The Designated Office empathizes with the Hillcrest Community Association, Whitehorse Urban Cycling Coalition, as well as concerned citizens that a separated crossing would offer a higher degree of safety and protection to vulnerable road users,” the YESAB document reads. “However, the current composition of the Alaska Highway constitutes the baseline from which potential effects to Public Health and Safety is assessed against, and the proposed design represent a safer alternative for all road users. “

The report goes on to detail the project plans and the recommendations.

The project will be done in three phases beginning with Phase 1 this summer with work expected to happen between May 1 and Oct. 31 of each year.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Alaska Highway

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