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Author Topic: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report  (Read 8996 times)

oscar

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Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« on: September 01, 2014, 02:21:23 AM »

As part of a mid-August "road trip" across Nunavut (separate report to follow), I flew into Yellowknife NT, spent one day/two nights there, and rented a car. I've been to Yellowknife before, but flight schedules make it difficult or impossible to fly between Nunavut's western Kitikmeot district and the rest of Nunavut without at least an overnight stay in Yellowknife. I decided to add another night to the unavoidable layover, to allow time for more sightseeing.

I had hoped to do a day trip down to the Deh Cho Bridge across the Mackenzie River, which I had seen under construction (from the former ferry crossing alongside the new bridge) when I drove to Yellowknife in 2012.  However, major wildfires near NT 3 between Fort Providence and Behchoko were causing on and off road closures in the week preceding my visit, including some daytime closures. I probably could have made it to and from the bridge in a day, but I didn't like the risk that I would end up on the wrong side of a prolonged road closure and miss my morning flight out of Yellowknife. So not this time -- though I've penciled in a road trip to Alberta next summer, and might try again then.

The major car rental agencies in Yellowknife I checked don't allow unlimited mileage (km-age?) on their rentals, only 50 free km per day plus charges of about 30 cents per km above the allowance. The 600 km-plus round trip to the Deh Cho Bridge would have meant an extra rental charge of about $150, on top of a long, fast, but rather tedious drive (except waiting for bison to clear the road, which you can expect at least once on your trip).

So I wound up focusing on local roadgeeking and other sightseeing around Yellowknife, including revisiting Ragged Ass Road and clinching Lois Lane, but most notably the realignment earlier this year of the west end of NT 4 (Ingraham Trail) near Yellowknife. The old highway passed through the old Giant Mine site north of Yellowknife, which is now Canada's equivalent of a "Superfund" site with lots of hazardous waste left over from gold mining operations. That includes about 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide, stored in underground vaults including some under the old highway. The NWT government moved NT 4 west of the mine site, to get Ingraham Trail travelers out of the way of cleanup operations, as well as give them a straighter route with fewer intersections.

About two km of the old highway remains open to the public, between NT 3 and a boat launch and a mining museum. It no longer is signed as NT 4, or as any other numbered route.



^  At this point, at the turnoff for the museum parking lot, are the closure barricades for the old highway at the Giant Mine site. I saw one vehicle, without obvious commercial markings, go past the barricades, but under police escort.









^  NT 3 still ends at the intersection with the old Ingraham Trail and Yellowknife Access Road into downtown Yellowknife, and didn't get truncated after NT 4 was relocated. The "End" sign shown in the first two photos, from the west side of the intersection facing eastward, uses an alternate version of the NT 3 route marker, and follows the apparent Arctic custom of never using "End" signs except where they are almost completely useless. The other photos are from Yellowknife Access Road just south of the NT 3 intersection, and on southbound NT 3 leaving that intersection, both showing the standard NT 3 marker.

Here's an older version of the first photo, from my 2012 trip, showing the NT 4 junction marker (between the ski area and road end signs) that has since been removed:



One of the usual control cities on the southbound highway leaving Yellowknife is Edmonton, about 1480 km/930 mi. away. Additional control cities are the much smaller but closer Rae, Behchoko, and Fort Providence along NT 3.





^ The realigned Ingraham Trail now starts about 1.4 km west of the original route, between Old Airport Road and the end of NT 3.



^ There are not yet any NT 4 route markers at the new intersection, or along the new Ingraham Trail segment (last I was there in 2012, there was at least one NT 4 marker somewhere east of the new segment). However, a sign at the intersection about the realignment project identifies the new segment as part of NT 4.



^ Most of the new segment remains a construction zone, with a reduced speed limit, as work on the new segment and its tie-in to the old route is completed.  Shown above is part of the new segment, with temporary lane markings pending a finish coat of asphalt pavement, as it passes through a rock cut at km 2.9.





^ Here are two photos of the tie-in between the new segment and the old highway, at about km 5.5, viewed from the west and the east (the car in the second photo is parked on the unpaved shoulder). The old highway still exists, but is blocked off by a concrete barricade and is closed to the public. The immediate tie-in area is still temporarily unpaved, unless later construction work has already fixed that.

While the sign at the beginning of the new segment says the realignment project is 7.9 km long, I think the last 2.3 km are/will be only minor improvements within the old right of way. I saw no indications of any significant realignment done or in progress between the tie-in point shown above and the Yellowknife River where the project ends.

While waiting for the rain to let up before touring the realigned NT 4, I went into the Old Town section of Yellowknife, to visit two short streets (three blocks long or less) with interesting names, Ragged Ass Road and Lois Lane. "Ragged Ass" is slang for "dirt poor", like the down-on-their-luck prospectors who were the original residents along the road, but it is now a rather prestigious Yellowknife address. Lois Lane was named in honour of Yellowknife native Margot Kidder, who played that character in some of the Superman movies.





^ Ragged Ass Road has a long history of sign theft, and still has a street sign permanently mounted on a hard-to-steal boulder, at the north end of the road at Hamilton Drive. However, there are also two conventional street blades for the road (which I didn't see on my 2012 visit), such as the one shown above on the other side of the Hamilton Drive intersection. These are reportedly welded to their sign posts, to minimize the risk of further sign thefts, but there's not a lot that can be done to stop people from sawing through the metal posts to steal the signs. Tourists who don't bring their own saws can always buy replica Ragged Ass Road signs in local gift shops, including the one in the Yellowknife airport.



^  Here's one of several Lois Lane street blades, this one at the intersection with Primrose Lane. I've heard that Lois Lane hasn't had the sign theft issues that Ragged Ass Road has had.

I also stopped by the territorial Legislative Assembly building north of downtown, including a short visit inside (no tours that Saturday afternoon, but the security guard let people come inside and walk through the public areas). The modern building is very unlike the usual capitol building, but hard to photograph because its front side is mostly behind trees. Oddly enough, I've been inside more territorial capitol buildings in Canada (two, including Nunavut's earlier this trip) than state capitol buildings in the U.S. (only one, California's).

A note on Yellowknife gas prices (which I've included in a post in the "Oil/Gas Prices" thread elsewhere on this forum):  On 8/17/14, I paid C$1.389/liter for regular unleaded (about US$4.78/gallon) at the Shell station near the Old Airport Road/Range Lake Road intersection. Not outrageous for Canada, and not that much more than the highest price I paid on my trip to southern California a few weeks ago (US$4.399 at the last gas station heading north on CA 173 in Lake Arrowhead). More than 2 km north of the Shell station, at the gas station closest to NT 3 and the Yellowknife airport, prices were 10 cents/liter higher.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 06:23:07 PM by oscar »
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ARMOURERERIC

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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2014, 09:20:24 AM »

This is wayyyyyyyy off topic, but I am a large quantity maker of medieval armour for the SCA et al, and I sell/ship lots and lots of my stuff to Yellowknife. 
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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2014, 11:30:36 AM »

There is a Lois Lane that intersects US 101 by the Coos-Curry county line area.  No Margot Kidder was involved though!

That was a great piece of writing Oscar.  Thanks for posting!

Rick
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oscar

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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2014, 11:57:23 AM »

This is wayyyyyyyy off topic, but I am a large quantity maker of medieval armour for the SCA et al, and I sell/ship lots and lots of my stuff to Yellowknife.

Whatever it takes to fend off the bears, eh? :)
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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2014, 12:41:10 PM »

Looks like a really quiet and peaceful place.
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oscar

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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2014, 10:56:17 AM »

Looks like a really quiet and peaceful place.

You wouldn't think that from the wall-to-wall stoplights in downtown Yellowknife.

But population and development stays pretty close to the city centre. On NT 3, nothing but a park, a car dealership, and the airport for more than 100km. On NT 4, now that it nypasses the hazmat-laden old Giant Mine, almost nothing but parks along its entire ~70km length.
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seicer

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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2014, 12:21:46 PM »

Canada's urban centers tend to be very dense and built up, unlike many American cities. Yellowknife, for it's remoteness, is dense and has some good height.
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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2014, 05:30:09 PM »

Downtown Yellowknife:





And some of the housing........ Instead of a concrete foundation, houses may be on steel beams and columns anchored directly into the rock.
 





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1995hoo

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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2014, 05:39:17 PM »

Funny thing about ghYHZ's second image is that it looks just like the picture of Yellowknife in my father's copy of the Canadian Book of the Road, which was published in August 1979. Guess it hasn't changed much in 35 years?!
« Last Edit: September 03, 2014, 07:28:55 AM by 1995hoo »
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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2014, 06:23:38 PM »

can you tell us more about the route markers you saw in use?

apart from minor font variations, I believe there are four designs in current use.  from (what I reckon) oldest to newest:

green bear
blue bear
white pentagon
blue pentagon

when I visited NWT in September, 2011, I saw one green bear (and was told that there was another a half-mile down a dirt road I did not take), many blue bears (95% of the shields), and the unveiling of the white pentagon with a blue number (5%).  but I have heard that recently there is a blue pentagon with a white number, and have seen an example in collector hands.  I'm guessing this blue pentagon is the absolute newest style.  can you corroborate?
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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2014, 06:33:36 PM »

The only ones I saw in the Yellowknife area this trip were blue bear, and white pentagon (in addition to the one shown above, at NT 3's north end, there was another white pentagon at the NT 3-Old Airport Road intersection). I don't recall seeing either of the other styles on my 2012 trip, which covered the entire NWT numbered highway system, including NT 8 to Inuvik. If they (still) exist in the wild, they would be outside Yellowknife. But if blue pentagons were the latest style, I'd expect at least one to be posted in the territorial capital area.

EDIT:  Take that back -- I found some green bear markers from my 2012 trip, at the NT 1-NT 7 junction (there's also a white pentagon elsewhere at that intersection):

« Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 07:03:44 PM by oscar »
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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2016, 10:05:14 AM »

I know this is a very old thread but I have to reply. 

I made a solo 9000 mile motorcycle trip from Dallas to Alaska down to Dawson Creek then up  to Yellowknife.  It was an awesome trip. I enjoyed Yellowknife, the 600+ miles from Grimshaw to Yellowknife was at times boring but I am boring and sort of at times like boring.

Yellowknife has some good places to eat and fantastic scenery.  It was well worth my time to go there.


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oscar

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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2016, 10:26:11 AM »

I made a solo 9000 mile motorcycle trip from Dallas to Alaska down to Dawson Creek then up  to Yellowknife.  It was an awesome trip. I enjoyed Yellowknife, the 600+ miles from Grimshaw to Yellowknife was at times boring but I am boring and sort of at times like boring.

Awesome!

How often did you have to stop for bison blocking the road, especially on NT 3 north of the Mackenzie River? On my round-trip to and from Yellowknife in 2012, I had to stop once to wait about ten minutes for a bison herd to clear the highway. OTOH, if it's just one bison taking a nap in the middle of the road, a motorcyclist could try to slip around as quietly as possible, an option not available to four-wheelers.
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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2016, 12:58:59 PM »

I stopped for about 15 minutes.  Then another vehicle came along and its driver wasn't as shy, drove slowly up to the bison and they would move slowly out of his way as he got close.  I followed.
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Re: Yellowknife (including NT 4 realignment) trip report
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2016, 04:55:16 PM »

Thank you.  This trip was at the first of August 2015.

There were some on the side of the road I did not have to stop any for live bison.  I did stop for one dead one in the ditch beside the road and the pickup was still there that hit it.  I checked on the driver but no one was around.  I assume it was a recent hit and the driver was taken for help and to notify the authorities.  On the Alaskan Highway, 97, I did have to stop a few times for bison.  It brought back memories of my younger days.

I spent about half of my life, 67 years old now, in Lawton, OK, just outside the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge which has plenty of bison and longhorns.  We used to camp anywhere we wanted in my younger days (can't anymore) and it was not unusual for bison to roam through the campsite.  So I am used to the big fellows.  Basically we did not mess with them and gave them plenty of room, no problems.  No need to challenge the big guys as they won't get in a hurry.  I have had them just stand in the middle of the road and glare at me as if daring me to challenge.   They always got me to back down.  I'm not stupid.





 
« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 05:21:17 PM by leroys73 »
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