Another round of public and stakeholder engagement is set to get underway for the Saskatoon Freeway Functional Planning Study.
For the remainder of 2020 and into early 2021, planning will focus on Phase 2 of this multi-year project which includes the longest segment of the study’s three phases, the eastern and southeastern parts of the freeway.
The current situation with COVID-19 will present some challenges since there are restrictions on public gatherings. In Phase 1, in-person face-to-face information sessions were used to share freeway designs and solicit feedback. Currently, online and virtual options are being explored to ensure public engagement as well as meetings with stakeholders, residents, and landowners in Phase 2.
The scope of work in Phase 2 includes a wide range of activities:
- presenting options for the South Saskatchewan River bridge crossing,
- finalizing road concept designs,
- setting the location of the freeway’s centre line,
- preparing a series of designs for interchanges that will be made available for public review and input, and
- reducing the current 500-metre-wide corridor in which land development has been restricted down to approximately 150 metres.
Because Phase 2 will impact provincial Highways 5, 11, 16, and 41 and several important streets on the east side of Saskatoon – including Central Ave., Blackley Rd., 8th Street, Patience Lake Rd. and Floral Rd. – work will include designs that show drivers how they’ll be able to enter and exit the freeway.
A number of alternatives have been studied for the South Saskatchewan River bridge crossing including evaluating options that require no piers in the river. The different options will be presented publicly in Phase 2.
As part of Phase 2, ecologically sensitive options will be prepared where the freeway route crosses the Small Swale and the Northeast Swale. Steps are being taken to minimize impact on the swales and options will be shared with the public later in the year.
When it is eventually built, the Saskatoon Freeway will improve road safety by providing a high-speed route for large trucks that will reduce their use of Circle Dr. Improved vehicle flow on less congested city streets will mean fewer traffic accidents and reduced emissions from slow-moving or idling vehicles stuck in traffic. The Saskatoon Freeway will also provide safer driving options for those living north and east of the city.
Currently, there is no timetable for construction of the Saskatoon Freeway. At a minimum, road building is not expected to start for 10 years, based on current population projections for Saskatoon and area.