In­ter­change re­vamp set at $280M

Pro­ject years away, but price tag al­ready makes coun­cil­lor ner­vous

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - ptank@post­ twit­­tankSK

A pro­posed re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of Saska­toon’s only clover­leaf in­ter­change would rank as one of the city’s most ex­pen­sive in­fra­struc­ture ini­tia­tives.

A City of Saska­toon re­port out­lines a plan to re­vamp the in­ter­change of High­way 11 and High­way 16/Cir­cle Drive to re­place two of the cir­cu­lar ramps with new road­ways and un­der­ground tun­nels. The pro­jected cost of $280.4 mil­lion would make it by far the most ex­pen­sive re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

Tax­pay­ers can breathe a lit­tle easy, be­cause the plan is in­tended for con­sid­er­a­tion 10 to 15 years from now, when the city ex­pects to close in on a pop­u­la­tion of half a mil­lion peo­ple.

City coun­cil’s trans­porta­tion com­mit­tee was treated this week to a slick video with three-di­men­sional graph­ics show­ing the pro­posed trans­for­ma­tion.

“I think it looks won­der­ful and it’s the great­est pre­sen­ta­tion I’ve ever seen,” Coun. Randy Donauer said at Tues­day ’s com­mit­tee meet­ing.

“I just get a lit­tle ner­vous of the price tag.”

The pro­posed cost would place the in­fra­struc­ture pro­ject in rare ter­ri­tory; only the Gordie Howe Bridge pro­ject and the cur­rent P3 pro­ject to build two new bridges are in the same $250-mil­lion-plus strato­sphere.

Donauer ques­tioned whether the trans­for­ma­tion will be nec­es­sary, given the provin­cial gov­ern­ment’s plans to one day build the Saska­toon Free­way, pre­vi­ously called the perime­ter high­way.

The Saska­toon Free­way is slated to loop around the east side of the city so driv­ers who want to by­pass the city can veer off High­way 11 or High­way 16 south of Saska­toon and re­con­nect with ei­ther high­way north of the city.

Donauer won­dered whether spend­ing so much on an in­ter­change would be worth it if traf­fic is re­duced. Although the prov­ince has mapped out the route of the Saska­toon Free­way, there is no start date for the pro­ject, es­ti­mated to cost more than $2 bil­lion.

The pro­posed re­vamp would elim­i­nate the south­east and the north­west clover­leaf ramps.

Mo­torists trav­el­ling east on Cir­cle Drive who want to end up head­ing north on High­way 11 would con­nect through tun­nels, rather than the ex­ist­ing clover­leaf ramp. The same goes for those head­ing west who want to head south.

The pro­ject would also in­crease the height of the Cir­cle Drive/ High­way 11 bridge to elim­i­nate col­li­sions with tall trucks, and el­e­vate all the road­ways.

Un­der the plan, High­way 11 be­tween the clover­leaf and Tay­lor Street would be widened to six lanes from four.

“This would be a sig­nif­i­cant in­fra­struc­ture pro­ject for sure,” Jay Ma­gus, the city’s act­ing di­rec­tor of trans­porta­tion, said in an interview Wed­nes­day.

As well, a slate of short-term fixes to add or ex­tend lanes to in­crease safety is es­ti­mated to cost $15 mil­lion.

The Gordie Howe Bridge and con­nect­ing road­ways cost about $296 mil­lion to build.

The cost of build­ing the two new bridges is $252.6 mil­lion, although the to­tal pro­ject costs $497.7 mil­lion, which in­cludes main­tain­ing the bridges for 30 years.


A long-term plan to re­vamp the in­ter­change of high­ways 11 and 16 south of the city is slated to cost $280 mil­lion.


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