Debunking the myths of the Regina Bypass Project

Jun 1, 2017
The Regina Bypass Project is the largest transportation infrastructure project in Saskatchewan history. It will dramatically enhance safety on Highway 1 east of Regina with overpasses at Balgonie, White City and the Pilot Butte access road, as well as reduce traffic congestion in and around Regina.

The Project

The Regina Bypass Project is the largest transportation infrastructure project in Saskatchewan history. It will dramatically enhance safety on Highway 1 east of Regina with overpasses at Balgonie, White City and the Pilot Butte access road, as well as reduce traffic congestion in and around Regina. As a land-locked province with an export economy, the Bypass will also allow producers, shippers and truckers to get products to market more efficiently, which ultimately reduces the cost to consumers. The Bypass will also facilitate growth around Regina by providing safe access to developable lands. The Regina Bypass Project consists of:

• 12 overpasses;

• 40 kilometres of new four-lane highway;

• 20 kilometres of resurfaced four-lane highway;

• 55 kilometres of new service roads; and

• Twinning of about five kilometres of Highway 6.

Phase 1 of the project from Balgonie to Highway 33 will be completed by Oct. 31, 2017, except the overpass at the Pilot Butte access road, which will be partially completed in 2017 and fully completed in 2018. The entire Regina Bypass will be completed by October 31, 2019. The Regina Bypass Project is currently on time and on budget.

Fact vs. Fiction

Bypass Route

Fiction

Even with construction well underway, opponents of the Regina Bypass Project continue to question the Bypass route. They believe it should have proceeded northeast to Highway 11 rather than south and west of the city before connecting with Highway 11. This belief is based on the location of the commercial/industrial business district being located in the northwest area of the city.

Facts

A traffic demand model was specifically developed for the Regina Bypass Project that predicted traffic volumes and patterns until 2049, as well as infrastructure needs to 2040 and beyond. This enabled Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure officials to test the various routes under consideration and select the best option. The modelling indicated that approximately 21,000 vehicles per day would use the southern route, which was ultimately selected, while approximately 8,000 vehicles per day would use the northern route based on 2040 traffic volumes.

These numbers aren’t surprising given the connections the Bypass route makes to the National Highway System. In addition to still connecting with Highway 11 north of Regina, the selected route also maintains a connection with the Trans-Canada Highway west of Regina, Highway 33 into the heart of the Bakken oilfield and a direct link to North Portal via Highways 6 and 39 – a 24-hour border crossing with the United States. A northeasterly route would have only connected Highway 1 east of Regina to Highway 11, ignoring many of the other connections people may wish to make.

For people living in Regina’s east end, a northern route wouldn’t address the congestion issues they’re currently encountering on Victoria Avenue. With the southern route, 70 per cent of commercial traffic is expected to bypass the city, removing some of the congestion from city streets. This provides many safety benefits, but there are also benefits for the provincial economy and businesses that rely on getting products in the hands of their customers as soon as possible. Every time a commercial vehicle slows down or stops on Victoria Avenue, it costs money and the travel time goes up. Eventually those costs are passed on to consumers.

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