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Trucking industry, Regina residents at odds as route removal council debate looms

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In their last meeting before the election, Regina city councillors will decide whether or not to ban trucking traffic from a stretch 9 Ave North. – Oct 24, 2020

A proposal to take trucking traffic off of a northwest Regina roadway is driving a line through the community ahead of the current council’s final meeting Wednesday.

Ward 9 Coun. Jason Mancinelli is set to present a motion that could see the heavy vehicle designation removed from 9th Ave North between Pasqua Street and Pasqua Road.

File
File. Global News

Before a vote is taken, council will hear from delegations both for and against the motion, which Mancinelli is bringing forward to address concerns he’s heard from constituents about safety on the route since the opening of the Regina Bypass.

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“It’s not a divided roadway. It’s got a higher speed limit and it’s got a lot of deviations to incorporate — left turns and movements of the road. And there’s not a lot of proximity to the yards it’s bordering,” said Mancinelli of his concerns that prompted the motion.

Read more: Cuts or savings? Regina mayoral candidates square off on details of campaign promise

The Saskatchewan Trucking Association has said they’re losing the route will result in lost efficiency and increased costs.
The Saskatchewan Trucking Association has said they’re losing the route will result in lost efficiency and increased costs. Justin Bukoski / Global News

Mancinelli said that he’s had his eye on the route for years as construction of the Regina Bypass developed.

He planned a traffic study that commenced when the new highway opened, and says the results proved his theory that trucking traffic would increase as drivers began to use the route as a “short cut”.

“I’m glad I did because it informed about the changes that were happening and helped us pay attention to what we could do instead,” Mancinelli said. “Upon opening, it started at 75 (trucks) a day. By the time the mid-year count was done, it was up to 175 a day — and it’s been growing ever since.”

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He said increased traffic noise has been a significant concern heard from constituents, but the potential for accidents has been most alarming to people in Ward 9.

He added that to invest in safer infrastructure along 9th Ave North would cost millions of dollars

“If the bypass wasn’t there and we were stuck with this problem, and it was $14 million to rectify, and I had to find a tax source and it was a safety concern, I’d be working on it that way, but there is a perfectly good alternative,” Mancinelli said.

File
File. File

When asked about the potential for the change to negatively impact trucking industry logistics, Mancinelli detailed another study he completed himself.

He said he completed a number of trips along two routes starting from the 9 Ave North and Regina Intersection and ending at the intersection of Albert Street and Ring Road.

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He says the longer route, which saw him drive north along the Bypass to Highway 11 before turning right and heading back towards Regina, took on average only 50 seconds longer than driving directly east along 9 Ave North through the city.

“And efficiencies in fuel and emissions — I don’t think they exist. Stop/start traffic is the worst except for hill climbing for a truck to consume and spit out emissions,” he added.

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The Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA), however, is skeptical of Mancinelli’s verdict.

“The trucking industry does not support Councillor Mancinelli’s motion,” said Susan Ewart with the STA.

Ewart said she believes losing the route will result in lost efficiency and increased costs.

“I’d like to see possibly more studies done by people who are subject matter experts and more dialogue and conversation with the Trucking Association before anything happens,” she said.

Ewart worried that removing the heavy vehicle designation could complicate logistics for trucks that have a destination on or near the route.

“It is a heavy truck route. It’s already designated that by the City of Regina. Getting goods and services into that area, that is the natural route you would take,” Ewart said, adding that one STA member said the change would add 32 kilometres per trip for their drivers.

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“If they’re doing that 16 times a day, six days a week,” Ewart continued, “think about the rise in fuel costs there. That ultimately is passed along to the end user — you and I.”

Ewart said adding kilometres would also hamper efforts to minimize the trucking industry’s carbon footprint.

“The trucking industry is one of the most heavily taxes and regulated industries out there. Losing more routes causes economic hardship,” Ewart said.

Read more: Truck drivers in Manitoba share experiences from the first 6 months of the pandemic

A number of Regina residents also signed up to speak at the city council meeting.

Julie Derby, who lives in the Fairways West neighborhood, has safety concerns related to the roadway’s design.

“Semi‐trucks were never seen using this stretch of roadway and as this stretch of road is narrow, with no shoulder, it is obviously unsafe especially when combined with regular traffic and thus is a recipe for a disaster,” her submission reads.

Derby also said she’s witnessed several accidents and near-misses.

“It is unsettling to say the least and only a matter of time before a major and possibly fatal accident occurs,” her submission said.

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