Highways ministry eyes west-end bypass around Saskatoon

By François Biber
September 30, 2014 - 4:48pm

Frustrated truckers driving through Saskatoon may see some relief – as the Ministry of Highways mulls over the idea of a new bypass around the city's west end.

“The purpose of the route would be to provide another north-south connection through the city and Corman Park for vehicle traffic and, specifically, truck traffic,” ministry spokesperson Doug Wakabayashi said.

In partnership with the City of Saskatoon and the Rural Municipality of Corman Park, the ministry is hiring a consultant to look at the possibility of having a bypass road connecting Highway 16 northwest of Saskatoon down to Circle Drive South.

Wakabayashi said the consultant will identify options where that north-south road could go in an effort to reduce truck traffic through the city and headaches for truckers and other drivers.

Terry Siemens, president of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association said anything to get truck traffic out of the inner-city is a plus, adding truckers are begging for a road allowing them to bypass Saskatoon streets.

“Trucks want to stay on the outside. They don't want to sit in traffic or cause traffic jams so being able to go to the west side of town and head to the north (or south) end of the city on the outskirts is beneficial for all parties,” Siemens said.

From a trucker’s perspective, Siemens said rush-hour traffic in front of Avenue C and Circle Drive is treacherous and if drivers could avoid the area, they would.

“I know trucks are lined up at the Travelodge … you can be sitting at the light for half hour just to get onto Circle Drive,” he said, adding once on Circle Drive, truckers tend to stay on par with other cars.

“Getting on and off Circle Drive is where all the congestion is. Especially in the north end of the city where many of the trucking businesses are based.”

Neault Road, formerly known as Dalmeny Road, could be one option for the connector. Siemens said improvements would have to be made on the road to ensure it can hold the traffic it’s meant to.

“Ideally we’d like to see a double-lane highway going each way, but a more reasonable expectation would be to have the ministry widen the highway because it’s quite narrow, and have a thicker membrane on the road to withstand primary weights (63,500kg),” Siemens said.

“If it's not primary, then it only does half of what it could do.”

The ministry of highways said they’re still in the early stages of the process. Wakabayashi expects the study to be completed in 2015.The $105,000 budget for the study will be split among Saskatoon, Corman Park and the ministry.

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