No support from Sask. government for proposed toll on Prince Albert bridge

Sask. Progressive Conservatives question Regina Bypass spending
The government of Saskatchewan says it does not support tolling highway infrastructure, including Prince Albert’s Diefenbaker Bridge. File / Global News

UPDATE: City of Prince Albert votes against bridge toll

The City of Prince Albert is still mulling the idea of a toll on the Diefenbaker Bridge.

According to a report, an estimated near 9,000,000 vehicles cross Saskatchewan’s Gateway to the North each year.

READ MORE: Diefenbaker Bridge in Prince Albert, Sask. sound, able to handle future traffic

Estimates are highly speculative but net revenue, after operating expenses, ranges from $500,000 to $4.5 million annually based on the toll pricing structure for all vehicles or only non-residential vehicles, the report states.

The city’s report says revenue could be used for Diefenbaker Bridge maintenance, facility development, reducing Prince Albert’s property taxes and/or building another bridge.

Saskatchewan’s Highways and Infrastructure Ministry reviewed the concept as the bridge is part of a major highway.

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Highways Minister Greg Ottenbreit said the provincial government does not support tolling highway infrastructure, including the Diefenbaker Bridge.

“The Urban Highway Connector Program (UHCP) exists to ensure urban connector highways provide the public with a safe, reliable route through the city,” read a letter from Ottenbreit.

“Applying a toll could place an additional hardship or restriction on roadway users. If the city council decides to proceed with a toll, there could be significant impacts on the UHCP funding agreement.”

READ MORE: ‘A lot of fear-mongering’ around Prince Albert toll bridge talks: councillor

In another letter, the ministry said it provides an annual operations and maintenance (O&M) grant to the city to use toward operating and maintaining the urban connectors outlined in the UHCP framework agreement.

“This fiscal year the UHCP O&M payment for your community is $207,265; an amount of $91,781 for the O&M activities to be provided by the ministry as detailed in the urban fixed cost custom work agreement has been subtracted from the O&M grant of $299,046 to determine this payment,” read the second letter from December 2019.

The installation of toll bridge equipment is estimated to be a minimum of $1.3-million plus taxes, according to the report.

The matter is on the city council agenda scheduled for Jan. 27.

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