Thursday July 24, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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The waiting game

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Local residents received a look to the future recently at an open house to discuss plans to twin Highway 39 east of Estevan.

It might have been disappointing for those who were hoping to see information on the twinning of 39 and 6 from Estevan to Regina, but that open house will require some time yet.

Double lanes from Estevan to Bienfait are a few years away. The project is still in the pre-construction phase. More planning, more open houses and more decisions are still needed. The land acquisition phase also has to happen before the ground-breaking ceremony for construction on a second set of lanes east of Estevan.

(Hopefully the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure doesn't bungle the land acquisition process for 39 twinning like it did for the new truck route north of Estevan).

It's encouraging that twinning of 39 east of Estevan is moving forward. The traffic numbers dictate that it has to happen. There are nearly 10,000 vehicles per day on 39 between Estevan's city limits and the Shand Access Road; the vehicle count hovers around 7,000 per day between the Shand road and 39's junction with Highway 18.

It would be nice if there was enough traffic to warrant twinning all the way to North Portal, but you can't justify the expense of twinning a highway that boasts less than 2,500 vehicles per day.

As for Highway 39 and 6 from Estevan to Regina, it's going to be an even lengthier process – a mega-project about 200 kilometres in length. 

Contrary to what some believe, the resurfacing of Highway 39 between Estevan and Macoun this year has no bearing on the timelines for twinning 39 and 6. The Estevan-Macoun project should have happened years ago.

Highway 39 from Estevan to Macoun is one of the worst stretches for a national highway in Saskatchewan. It's possibly the last stretch of 39 between the U.S. border and Wilcox to be resurfaced in the last 15 years.

Local residents do have to play the waiting game on twinning. We want to see double lanes east of Estevan now. We want to see Highways 39 and 6 from Estevan to Regina twinned now. Resurfacing of Highway 39 from Estevan to Macoun is a much-needed project, but it's not going to enhance safety on that highway. (Other than motorists won't have to veer into the other lane to avoid large potholes).

We're a few years away from twinning, and remedying the safety issues associated with Highway 39.

Due process has to be followed. And in the meantime, we have to be patient and exercise common sense. 


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