The Saskatchewan government says the Regina Bypass will officially open to motorists on Tuesday, Oct. 29, as a ceremony marked the grand opening on Monday.
Officials said the largest transportation infrastructure project in the province’s history will boost the economy through the efficient transport of goods, reduced traffic congestion and improved safety.
“The opening of the Regina Bypass is an important milestone for our province and will greatly improve the transportation of goods in and out of our province’s capital city,” Premier Scott Moe said in a press release.
“More importantly, the Regina Bypass will greatly improve the safety of our roads and highways for our families and industries.”
It is estimated that reduced collision rates because of the bypass will result in $2 to $3 million in annual cost savings from property damage, injuries and fatalities, according to officials. They added the savings in terms of human suffering are incalculable.
Fire departments like White City are already seeing improvement since the completion of phase one in 2017.
“We haven’t used our Jaws of Life in two years,” White City Fire Department chief Randy Schulz said.
“Our call counts for accidents have dropped by more than half — by two-thirds — so we can see it. We don’t get the calls that we use to.”
It’s a huge milestone for Wanda Campbell, who lost her 17-year-old son Lane in a crash on Highway 1 East, on Aug. 9, 2013.
“There were six fatalities at that intersection in as many years,” Campbell said. “At first we were lobbying for lights, for a safe intersection, but we got way more with the bypass.”
But not everyone is convinced with critics taking issue with the amount spent accommodating the Global Transportation Hub (GTH). Adding, the project actually exceeds estimates.
“My biggest concern is the amount spent of the west Regina bypass supporting a fallacy or fantasy that there would be a lot more traffic coming out of the GTH,” the NDP’s Regina Bypass critic Cathy Sproule said.
During four years of construction, crews worked nearly five-million hours on the bypass with just one lost-time incident, according to government officials. The first section of the bypass opened in 2017.
Crews will be working on a few finishing touches on Monday before the entire route opens on Tuesday.
-With files from Katelyn Wilson