After months of traffic headaches, Saskatoon’s University Bridge will reopen to all vehicles on Tuesday.
There is currently one lane open. The bridge will official open to drivers after the Saskatoon Ex parade, which began at 10 a.m.
“It worked out really good. It doesn’t always work this way, in this case everything lined up for us and were able to get off four weeks ahead of schedule right now,” Rob Frank with the City of Saskatoon said.
Good weather and no surprises helped crews get the work done early.
Frank said drivers will notice the bridge has a different look and feel.
“It’s a concrete surface so it’s going to have a different sound when you are driving across like it. It’s going to be very much like Circle Drive South Bridge or the Clarence Overpass over Circle Drive,” he said.
There will be some lane restrictions during off-peak hours to allow for finishing touches such as concrete sealing and permanent lane markings. All Saskatoon Transit routes are returning to normal. The weekend shuttle (#200) that ran between the University of Saskatchewan and the downtown terminal will be suspended.
The bridge closed to regular traffic May 3 for the $6-million repairs and was originally scheduled to reopen Aug. 30. Last Thursday the city announced the bridge could reopen in as little as a week or two because work was ahead of schedule.
The bridge reopening also comes at an opportune time for motorists. The Saskatoon Fringe Festival, which runs until Aug. 8, will shut down a section of Broadway Avenue every night this week from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Once the new concrete has had 28 days to cure, the deck will be sealed and lines will be painted.
The bridge will not require a full closure for another 25 years. The city might need to rehabilitate the bridge’s arches and piers in 2021.
The bridge strategy going forward includes the rehabilitation of an average of two bridge or overpass structures per year. The Ruth Street Overpass is slated for next year.
Businesses happy to see traffic again
With a parade walking by it almost felt like a celebration that the bridge was reopening, according to director of sales and marketing at the Park Town hotel Amar Vasani.
“It’s great to have that side of the city busy again,” Vasani said after finishing his float judging duties Tuesday morning.
The hotel is located at the bottom of the bridge on the corner of Spadina Crescent and 25th Street East, but Vasani said they didn’t see much change in day-to-day business.
“We didn’t have much of an impact at all, if at all, we were still really good. People were really understanding that when they came to the hotel they would have to take a different route and go around the bridge,” he said.
The Park Town Hotel does have a lot of people stay specifically for the purpose of going to the Royal University Hospital on the other side of the bridge but Vasani said the hotel’s shuttle service was able to work around the inconvenience.
“When it comes to our hospital stays, it’s great to go over the University Bridge and you are there, instead of going around it,” he said.
“It’s going to be different because you picked a different way to go places and now with the bridge open it’s going to feel pretty convenient.”
Even with a minimal impact on the hotel, Vasani said seeing the traffic has put a lot of smiles on people’s faces.
“I will drive it just as a little celebration,” he said with a laugh.
For more information, visit Saskatoon.ca/UniversityBridge.
– with files from CKOM’s Kelly Malone
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