Promises of shorter commutes with $116M in bridge funding
Watch above: the city of bridges could soon be adding another span
SASKATOON – Be prepared for shorter commute times after a major multimillion dollar funding announcement Monday in the Bridge City.
The federal and provincial governments pledged $116 million in funding towards a new bridge in Saskatoon’s north end and the replacement of the 107-year-old Traffic Bridge.
“It came through the P3 system as a paired offering, I think it was very important as the mayor rightly points to the other bridges downtown are going to need some work over time, that means there’s going to be restrictions so by reinventing the Victoria Bridge first that gives them that safety valve to do the repairs on the other bridges,” said Gerry Ritz, federal minister of agriculture and Agri-Food.
This will mark the fourth P3 Canada Fund Project in the province, with the federal government committing up to $66 million to the project and the provincial government contributing $50 million for the North Commuter Parkway Bridge.
“It’s a quarter of a billion dollar project here and if we were going to try to finance it conventionally without a P3 we wouldn’t be announcing this, governments don’t have those kind of resources, these are huge long-term infrastructure projects and we need to finances them over the long-term but we’ll do that with our share, our share will be financed with $50 million dollars,” said Premier Brad Wall.
Forty thousand commuters are projected to use the North Commuter Parkway Bridge every day, with 12,000 on the Traffic Bridge. Once open, traffic congestion will be reduced and travel times shortened.
Wall said it’s a challenge, but a welcomed one, citing that 9,000 newcomers have moved to Saskatchewan in a short period of time at rates nine times the average prior to the province’s growth period.
“Mayor Atch, he’s formidable. Don’t get between this man and bridge, he’s been pressing us on the issue and together with our MLA’s from the area, we also understand that these are the challenges of growth,” said Wall.
The total estimated price tag of the projects is $250 million dollars and at this time, there are few details as to where the additional monies will come from.
“The city will in fact be dealing with the proponents of that, that will come forward in the future and we’ll work that all out under the P3 scenario,” said Mayor Don Atchison.
One contractor will be awarded the work for both bridges and although press documents indicated the bridges will be built over three construction seasons, Atchinson wouldn’t commit to an exact time frame.
“Ideally as soon as possible, I can’t give you a date on that because the RFQ, RFP’s all have to go out yet but as soon as we can get them open that will be wonderful,” said the mayor.
The North Commuter Parkway Bridge will link the Marquis industrial area with the University Heights area by extending Marquis Drive across the river and connecting to McOrmond Drive at Fedoruk Drive.
According to the mayor, once the bridges are complete, the North Commuter Parkway Bridge will be six lanes across. The Traffic Bridge will be two modern lanes that will be able to handle both transit and emergency crews.