Designs for a perimeter highway around Saskatoon continue to change but the billions it’s going to cost haven’t.
“It’s in the very early stages right now,” said ministry of highways spokesperson Doug Wakabayashi. “What we’re doing is just drawing lines on a map to see where things can go so there isn’t a timeline for construction yet for either.”
The latest public feedback and studies show there isn’t a solid business case to have the perimeter highway cover Saskatoon’s southwest quadrant despite project growth in the city and the Rural Municipality of Corman Park.
“When you go through the logistics of crossing the river and building another bridge, the impact on residential land and the cost involved with that, given the fact that there’s plenty of capacity already with the Circle Drive South Bridge,” Wakabayashi said, adding growth demands 20 to 30 years ahead don’t call for another river crossing in the area.
The new line starts at Highway 16 northwest of Saskatoon heading south and connecting onto Highway 7 on the city’s west end. The perimeter highway heading east runs over Saskatoon’s north and northeast connecting onto the Yellowhead in Saskatoon’s southeast and Highway 11 south.
There are three plans for the southeast corner which the ministry is seeking public feedback on.
Wakabayashi said the ministry continues to look at a west connector road linking Highway 16 with Highway 7 via Neault Road.
“It’s more like an arterial road, not a freeway,” he said. “The west connector road is a much smaller project than the Saskatoon freeway but it will likely serve as an interim option until the freeway is built.”
Wakabayashi stressed both projects are still in their infancy stages, and no timelines for construction have been set yet.
To give a sense of how lengthy the planning stage is for projects this big, the ministry referenced the Regina Bypass, which saw shovels into the ground in 2015.
“The Regina Bypass just kicked off construction, planning for that dates back to the mid-90s.”