Saskatoon Freeway construction is more than just concrete, asphalt and heavy machinery.
Critical consultations and engagement with those impacted – landowners, businesses, environment – are imperative in hearing concerns and answering any questions associated with such a potentially massive undertaking.
Geoff Meinart, with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, recently shared in Saskatoon with an NSBA audience plans of how the government and its partners are moving forward with Freeway planning and consultations.
To properly manage all the necessary consultation, officials with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure currently are in the midst of a functional planning study for Phase 1 of the Freeway project, arguably the most complex of the three phases.
Simply put, a functional planning study is:
The summation of consultations, meetings, surveys and studies that will establish the criteria for final design. Completion of the functional planning study is anticipated for 2021. It is a time-consuming process – and with good reason, if you consider all the work that must be completed:
- A final route plan within the corridor;
- Right-of-way plans for impacted landowners;
- Pinpointing access points to the Freeway and to adjacent businesses;
- A cost estimate for construction; and
- Significant stakeholder engagement with impacted businesses and landowners.
The functional planning study will unfold over three phases:
- Step 1: Collect and review data;
- Step 2: Generate and evaluate options, including interchange and intersection analysis, access point management, etc;
- Step 3: Reporting and deliverables (i.e.: Environmental and heritage reports, stakeholder reports).
Environmental impacts will not be overlooked or ignored during this process. Ministry officials will be conducting a field survey in June 2019 to identify critical habitat and species native to potentially impacted land. Our experts will work with local environmental groups to identify concerns and provide recommendations for Freeway design to minimize impact.
Stakeholder engagement extends well beyond environmental and heritage groups. Ministry officials are actively communicating with impacted landowners and businesses, as well as Indigenous partners and the general public.
Through a variety of tools, we’ll not only share information about the Freeway, but we’ll also hear important feedback.
It is expected by the fall of this year the Ministry will be ready to present options and analysis based on engagement and feedback, most likely through a public open house.
By the time the snow flies this year, it is anticipated Ministry will present a final configuration of Phase 1 of the Freeway. Throughout the fall, meetings with impacted stakeholders will continue.
On screen presentationSFFPS_NSBA-Presentation-2