Note: This web copy is clarifying a statement made by the minister in regards to communities who support traffic lights on Highway 1 East.
REGINA – The NDP is calling for an “urgent” meeting with the government to discuss the Regina bypass.
The opposition says they have some serious concerns, including the $2 billion cost. At the same time, a Regina city councilor is also asking: how much is too much money?
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The latest collision on Highway 1 East happened last week, prompting a vigil and protest over the weekend. Two overpasses (part of the Regina Bypass Project) are not going to be built for two more years. Concerned citizens are calling for traffic lights in the meantime and the NDP agrees.
“At Pilot Butte likely, up further at the 48 and then up further at the turn-off at Balgonie,” said NDP MLA Trent Wotherspoon of potential locations for traffic lights.
However, the government isn’t convinced.
“Lights don’t necessarily guarantee safer intersections.”
“Lights don’t necessarily guarantee safer intersections,” said Don McMorris, former Highways and Infrastructure Minister.
Statistics in the 2010 Highway Safety Manual published by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials show that converting from a stop control to a signal control at a rural intersection is likely to increase rear-end collisions by 58 per cent while decreasing all types of collisions by 44 per cent, right-angle collisions by 77 per cent and left turn signals by 60 per cent. On Wednesday, the assistant deputy minister of the Highways Ministry admitted he should have been transparent with these numbers.
However, the government believes the safest option is to just prevent delays to the bypass project.
The NDP opposition said the government needs to re-think its entire plan.
“We need to sit down certainly and talk about the numbers, the cost, the structure, the reports of government before the government puts tax payers on the hook for over $2 billion, a massive over-run for a bypass potentially in the wrong location,” said Wotherspoon.
“It’s actually more money than all of the decisions that have come before council combined in the last three years.”
“It’s actually more money than all of the decisions that have come before council combined in the last three years,” said Shawn Fraser, Regina city councilor in Ward 3 of the price of the bypass.
Regina City Council supports the Regina Bypass Project, but Fraser said the project – which was initially pegged at $1.2 billion – is now just too costly.
“So the terms of the project have greatly increased – by $600 million and counting. $600 million, to put in context, is more money than the stadium and the waste water treatment plant and a list of other things combined,” he said.
Despite the price tag, the government maintains the province’s biggest infrastructure project in history needs to proceed.
“All the municipalities in those areas, whether it’s the RM of Sherwood, the RM of Edenwold, White City, Emerald Park, Pilot Butte, the community of Edenwold – (they) all agree this is the right decision to be made.”
Emerald Park is not its own community, but rather part of the RM of Edenwold. This rural municipality passed a resolution in May 2014, supporting the implementation of traffic lights at the Pilot Butte, White City and Balgonie intersections.