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Interchanges focus of open house

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Potential interchanges were discussed for Estevan's truck route during an open house on June 18 in Estevan.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways is offering local residents a look at how interchanges might look for Estevan's new truck route, even though it'll be many years before the interchanges are actually constructed.

The potential interchange designs were revealed during an open house on June 18 at the Leisure Centre's multi-purpose room. Representatives from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and the Tetra Tech engineering firm walked visitors through the options.

Mark Rathwell, a senior communications consultant with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways, said they wanted to gather people's thoughts on the long-term project.

"It's part of our planning process to first get some concepts out there, get some people's thoughts on them, and move forward from there, based on what we hear," said Rathwell.

But he admits that these interchanges might be more than two decades away.

"The truck route, as it's designed right now, can handle potential volumes, or forecasted traffic volumes, for about the next 20 years," said Rathwell. "But we also know that we're in a growing province, and this is a growing area."

People who attended the open house viewed plans and asked questions about options for the Highway 39 west access point, the junction between the truck route and Highway 47, the intersection between the truck route and the Bienfait grid northeast of Estevan, and the Highway 39 east access point.

Tetra Tech regional transportation director Ted Stobbs said the options for the interchanges range from as few as one or as many as three.

"An interchange is really about getting the traffic through the intersection more efficiently," said Stobbs.

There could be round-abouts, diamond interchanges or overpasses with ramps for the Highway 47 junction and the Highway 39 east access point; a bridge above the Bienfait grid; and bridges for the Highway 39 west access point.

The concepts have yet to be priced, Stobbs said.

"We haven't costed them yet, but the more length of road there is to build, the more bridges there are, the more expensive they are," said Stobbs. 

Traffic volumes will be part of the assessment process for when any interchanges would proceed.

As for the truck route, Rathwell said grading is currently underway. If the weather cooperates, it is expected to wrap up by the end of August. Asphalt surfacing would begin after the grading is done.

Rathwell said the project is on target for opening fall 2015.


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