Watch above: the city hopes the zipper merge will help keep traffic moving through construction zones
SASKATOON – Traffic in Saskatoon is busy as is, throw in some construction zones and there’s more stopping than going. The city is bringing back the zipper merge, an initiative introduced last year to alleviate some of the jams and improve safety in work zones.
There are up to 100 road construction work zones daily in Saskatoon. To keep traffic moving through specific work zones the city is implementing the zipper merge.
“If you have side streets or any other conflicts entering into the mix it does really complicate the whole zipper merge, essentially you want to have two lanes that are zippering together, so we want to be very selective of where we implement them, so that they are successful and that it doesn’t further complicate the work zone,” said Angela Gardiner, the City of Saskatoon’s transportation director.
Designed to improve traffic flow and safety, the city first tested out the zipper merge last year. Residents are hopeful others have caught on.
“Overall we’ve found it to be very beneficial and we’re encouraged that there’s more people being aware of it, people understanding the benefits of it,” said Gardiner.
Zipper merge zones can be enforced under the Traffic Safety Act, the city didn’t have to go to that extreme last year and hopes not to this year.
“Police are aware and are willing to assist when needed if we see that there’s not compliance with the merging at the work zones,” said Gardiner.
Currently there is only one zipper merge area marked in Saskatoon and that’s a stretch on Circle Drive between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. but there will be another one popping up in the city soon on Idylwyld Drive.
“Throughout the summer as we finalize traffic control plans for various other projects we will be implementing it and making sure motorists are aware of where it is,” said Gardiner.
For more information and a step by step video on how to zipper merge you can visit the City of Saskatoon’s website.