The Saskatoon freeway would be one of the largest infrastructure projects in Saskatchewan history.
The proposed freeway would see a 55-kilometre loop around the city of Saskatoon. Four lanes of traffic would move at 110 kilometres per hour, with 16 interchanges, five rail crossings and one major bridge crossing.
So, is a project of this magnitude really needed?
Yes, and here’s why:
- To ease traffic congestion in and around the Saskatoon area;
- Provide a free-flow, high-speed, safe route for passenger vehicles and large trucks;
- Support transportation efficiency for Saskatchewan and Canadian commercial truckers and producers by eliminating the current delays experienced while travelling through the city;
- Population growth in Saskatoon and its bedroom communities has exploded, meaning more vehicles on city roads and highways.
Stuck in traffic? Too many red lights? Moving at a snail’s pace behind a semitrailer?
The Saskatoon Freeway hopes to eliminate these frustrations experienced by drivers in and around the Saskatoon area.
Highway 11, Highway 16 and Highway 7 are all National System Highways and key provincial and inter-provincial corridors for the movement of people and goods. The efficient movement of goods and services is vital to the local and provincial economy. With more than 7,000 trucks travelling daily on both Highways 11 and 16, the route will move large carriers around the perimeter of the city.
Rather than have large transport trucks haul their loads through the city of Saskatoon, the concept of the freeway is to divert these slower-moving vehicles outside the city to alleviate congestion on major roadways like 42nd Street (Circle Drive) and each of the bridge crossings.
This would benefit both city drivers and truck operators and allow more free-flowing traffic. As well, fewer vehicles idling in traffic will help to reduce emissions.
Population growth in Saskatoon and surrounding communities has ballooned this decade, especially in Warman and Martensville. This growth has put pressure on existing roadways.
Warman officially became a city in October 2012 after experiencing growth more than 100 per cent faster than any other Saskatchewan city over the past five years. Between 2011 and 2016, its population expanded to 11,020 from 7,104 — a 55-per-cent increase — according to Statistics Canada.
The Saskatoon Census Metropolitan Area, which encompasses Warman and Martensville, also experienced unprecedented growth over the last half-decade. Martensville’s population exploded by 25 per cent, while the region as a whole grew by nearly 13 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.
Saskatoon is Saskatchewan’s most populous city, with the City of Saskatoon estimating its population sits at 272,000 residents as of July 1, 2019.
It’s growth rate (2.8 per cent) led all Canadian cities in 2017 and 2016.
What does all of this mean? More vehicles on the roads and highways.
The freeway – designed to serve the needs of a city with a population of 750,000 – would provide an alternative route for slower and heavier transport vehicles wishing to avoid driving on city roads. It would also allow for a more efficient commute for passenger vehicles, all the while diminish congestion within city limits.
The Ministry is in year one of a three-year study that will finalize planning details of the Saskatoon Freeway.
To learn more about the Saskatoon freeway, including dates for upcoming public forums, visit https://saskatoonfreeway.org.