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Franklin Avenue detour draws mixed reactions

Drivers diverted from roadwork on Franklin Avenue say they’re treating the weeks-long detour as a necessary annoyance.

“We’re happy when the road is done ... it’s worth it, always,” said Claudia Bruehlmann, a grounds maintenance worker who spoke to Yellowknifer while on the job in the city’s Forrest Drive neighbourhood.

As part of the city's 2018 paving project, contracted to NWT Construction Ltd., the work will see an stretch of Franklin Avenue from Forrest Drive to Gitzel Street closed. Work will include asphalt resurfacing from Norseman Drive to Old Airport Road, curb and gutter replacement, installation of a three-metre asphalt pathway on each side of the road and improvements to street lighting,” states information from the city.

Brendan Burke/NNSL photo.
After initially losing some time to the detour at Forrest Drive, Claudia Bruehlmann said she's learning
to navigate. “I just plan my way around it basically.”

In the meantime, motorists will be detoured through residential streets.

Drivers who normally take Franklin Avenue when coming from downtown will now make a left turn on Reservoir Road before turning right on Forrest Drive. Drivers will then hook back up with Franklin after turning left at the Mac's convenience store. That store is currently closed for renovations.

The same goes for motorists heading downtown, but in reverse, of course.

Gitzel Street traffic will be channeled through Matonabee Street. Forrest Drive traffic signals will stay up and running.

The detour itself is set to end in three to four weeks, when part of Franklin Avenue is due to open, but construction won’t end until mid-September, city spokesperson Richard McIntosh stated in an email.

Bruehlmann, who avoided the Franklin detour area after her first encounter Wednesday, said navigating construction areas is all about picking your spots.

“I just plan my way around it basically,” said Bruehlmann, whose job requires her to drive across town regularly,
“If you plan it right, you’re still OK,” she said, admitting the detour added unexpected time to her own commute Wednesday.

“I was actually late to work because I didn’t know (about the construction),” she said.

Another Forrest Drive resident, Emily Bracken, said the street was busier, with a “ton of traffic” through the residential street.

A map shows the area affected by the Franklin Avenue closure and the detour route. Courtesy of the City of Yellowknife.

While the redirected flow of vehicles doesn’t bother her, Bracken said the noise might begin to grind her gears in a month's time.

A Forrest Avenue man, who wished not to be identified, called the large scale construction undertaking “disappointing,” giving the construction seen during the same time last year, but said he “we have to move forward.”

Echoing Bruehlmannm’s comments, Kam Lake area resident Lucy Lu, who drives to her downtown office daily, said the minor inconveniences and headaches are worth it down the road.

“Overall it’s okay because they need to get better roads. For me, cost not is too big of a difference, just a little traffic,” said Lu.