Saskatoon city council delays decision on Chief Mistawasis Bridge speed limit

Council will make a decision on the speed limit on the Chief Mistawasis Bridge at its next meeting after a 60 km/h speed limit failed on a tied vote. City of Saskatoon / Supplied

The North Commuter Parkway is expected to open in October, making it quicker to get from one end of the city to the other. However, Saskatoon city council is still at odds with how fast drivers can go across a crucial part of the project.

One of the recommendations in front of councillors at Monday’s city council meeting was for 60 km/h across the Chief Mistawasis Bridge, and a stretch of McOrmond Drive from Central Avenue to Wanuskewin Road.

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The recommendation failed due to a tied vote. Some councillors were concerned the slower speeds in the area would make it seem like the city was imposing a speed trap.

Instead, Coun. Zach Jeffries wants to see the speed limit set at 70 km/h.

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“The initial design speed is actually built for 70 km/h, that’s what council had directed previously,” Jeffries told reporters after the vote. “For me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to be assigning things under what their design speed happens to be.”

But a nature advocacy group called the Northeast Swale Watchers is opposed to the 70 km/h limit. The group has been heavily involved in the process to set speed limits at 50 km/h in areas the roadway passes through the protected ecological area.

The group believes the lower speed will help protect wildlife in the swale, which can include moose, deer and coyotes.

“It would be better if the traffic could go 60 instead of 70 because they’re less likely then to encounter and hit large wildlife,” said Louise Jones, chair of the Northeast Swale Watchers.

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But Jeffries, the councillor whose ward encompasses the roadway and the swale, said the area being debated is separate from the swale, and there are measures in place that will help drivers slow down

“The roadway is going to be different, the lighting is going to be different; and as a result, the speed limit in that northeast swale area is going to be different,”Jeffries said.

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“But the area immediately adjacent to the bridge is a two and a half kilometer stretch, there’s not a lot going on there and it seems to me that we’ve designed it for 70, lets actually sign it for 70.”

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Council did unanimously approve speed changes at five other locations:

  • Betts Avenue from 22nd Street West to Hart Road; from 60 km/h to 50 km/h;
  • Clarence Avenue from 50 meters south of Circle Drive to Stonebridge Boulevard, from 60 km/h to 50 km/h;
  • 8th Street from Moss Avenue to 400 meters east of McKercher Drive, from 60 km/h to 50 km/h;
  • College Drive from 800 meters east of McOrmond Drive to the east city limit, from 100 to 90; and
  • Highway 41 from College Drive to the east city limit from 100 to 90.

Council will make a decision on the speed limit on the Chief Mistawasis Bridge at its next meeting.

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