Plans for a north bridge in Saskatoon now call for a wider, faster and pricier crossing.
Residents of the city's rapidly-growing suburbs east of the South Saskatchewan River have long been pushing for a faster way to reach the north industrial end of the city.
Initial estimates pegged the north bridge at $86 million, with another $55 million to be spent on roads connecting it to Marquis Drive and McOrmond Drive. That would have paid for a four-lane 'commuter' bridge carrying traffic at 50 kilometres an hour, similar to Saskatoon's Broadway Bridge.
A report going to Saskatoon's executive committee on Monday recommends widening the proposed bridge to three lanes in each direction. All city councillors sit on executive committee.
"A six-lane bridge should be built at the outset to minimize future throwaway costs," says the report.
The new bridge, dubbed the 'North Commuter Parkway', would link Wanuskewin Road to McOrmond Drive and Central Avenue. The new plan also calls for upgrades at the intersection of Central Avenue and Attridge Drive.
Consultants say if Saskatoon's current 2.5 per cent growth rate continues, the city would outgrow a narrower north bridge by 2021. They say a wider bridge would carry up to 21,700 vehicles per day, although heavy trucks would still be routed over the Circle Drive North bridge, or a future "Perimeter" highway.
The proposed changes push the overall cost for the north bridge project to $194,473,500.
"It is anticipated that the North Commuter Parkway roadways and river bridge will be open to traffic in November 2016," the report notes. It says that date would be "subject to constraints from federal and/or provincial funding programs."
City officials are recommending the tender include work to replace the now-defunct Traffic Bridge, to be completed by 2017. That project is currently estimated at $35 million.