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Commuters on the south end of the city encountered lengthy traffic delays Thursday morning due to the rerouting of traffic on Franklin Avenue and Old Airport Road onto Taylor Road. Traffic was rerouted to facilitate the construction of water and sewer lines to Northland Trailer Park. According to Chris Greencorn, director of public works, traffic will remained detoured onto Taylor Road for at least two weeks. - Cody Punter/NNSL photo

Morning commute down to a crawl
Rerouting of Franklin Avenue onto Taylor Road expected to continue for at least two weeks

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Friday, September 13, 2013

Yellowknifers who make their commute from the south end of the city to downtown were greeted by an unwelcome sight Thursday morning as northbound traffic on Franklin Avenue was backed up all the way to Finlayson Drive.

Many residents took to social media outlets to voice their frustrations over lengthy delays, with some saying it took more than 20 minutes for them to get to work.

A few drivers became so frustrated they attempted to detour through the Multiplex parking lot and Northland Trailer Park in an attempt to get around the traffic jam.

It was the first morning of a rerouting of Franklin Avenue and Old Airport Road traffic onto Taylor Road that is expected to continue for at least two weeks as city contractor RTL Construction moves to its next phase of replacing water and sewer lines to Northland Trailer Park. The southbound lane on Franklin Avenue between Old Airport Road and Norseman Drive has been closed for most of the summer but now traffic is being detoured onto Taylor Road around the fire hall.

In order to aid traffic flow, traffic lights at the Old Airport Road and Franklin Avenue intersection have been adjusted so that they are green in alternating sequences. There is also additional signage and several workers directing the flow of traffic.

Chris Greencorn, director of public works, said he understands commuters' frustration but said that the work is necessary to replace Northland's water and sewer lines.

"It's got to be done, there's no other choice," said Greencorn on Thursday. "It's the anchor point for Northland. There's very little we could do to avoid it."

Greencorn said the best case scenario is at least two more weeks before traffic can go straight down Franklin Avenue again.

"If we're lucky it'll be two weeks, bad luck, more," said Greencorn.

"We're going to push it through so that Franklin Avenue is ready before winter."

Greencorn said the city has received complaints and is already talking to RTL to improve the situation.

"The signage this morning wasn't adequate so we're definitely improving on signage and site presence to make sure traffic flows more smoothly," he said.

"We're not going to say it doesn't need a little bit of tweaking - it does. But we're working on it."

To make matters worse, the only other vehicle access to downtown from the south end of the city - Highway 3 - is also congested during the morning commute as construction continues on the Highway 4 bypass around Giant Mine.

"It doesn't help that DOT is paving the highway at the exact time," said Greencorn.

Yellowknifer did not hear back from the Department of Transportation before press time for information on construction affecting that route.

As road work continues on Franklin Avenue, Greencorn advises morning commuters to leave 15 to 20 minutes early to avoid delays.

"We're working on it," he said. "We just ask people to be patient."

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