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Work crews are about to temporarily turn one of the runways at the Whitehorse airport into a gravel airstrip. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Work crews are about to temporarily turn one of the runways at the Whitehorse airport into a gravel airstrip.

It's all part of a renovation plan that will eventually see the runway extended.

The airport has two runways, and it's the second one — the one closest to the clay cliffs and downtown — slated to be broken up.

It's used mostly by smaller aircraft. Larger passenger planes use the longer one, closer to the terminal building.

The airstrip will be pulverised and broken up into chunks, to form an aggregate base like gravel.

Assistant Deputy Minister Allan Nixon says the transportation division of the Department of Highways and Public Works has been planning the move for years. He's confident pilots will continue to be able to use the gravel surface and the project won't mean major changes for travellers.

"You'd still be able to use it but it would be a gravel strip," he said. "Work won't affect traffic significantly at all."

Then next spring, work will begin on extending that runway and paving it.