Saskatchewan

Gov't says farm equipment may have to drive on curb of new Balgonie overpass

Less than a week after opening, complaints are being raised about the size of a portion of the new Balgonie overpass.

Farmer says access road too narrow; Ministry of Highways looking into potential curb changes

This front-end loader has room to get through the overpass. But concerns have been raised that the access road toward the bridge is too narrow. (CBC)

Less than a week after opening, complaints are being raised about the size of a portion of the new Balgonie, Sask., overpass.

Officially opened to traffic on July 26, it is the first overpass completed for the $2-billion Regina bypass project.

Balgonie-area farmer Ryan Leibel says he tried to cross the overpass with his farm equipment, but his tires rubbed against the curbs. He says it's an issue for him and the many other farmers who need to use that road to safely cross the Trans-Canada Highway.

The roundabout was not a problem for Leibel to navigate with his tractor, but he said the access road was 'a little narrow'. He said his tractor just barely made it through the access road, with his tires rubbing against the curb.

He said his combine and air seeder will not make it through, and to get to the field he needs to farm, he'll have to take a detour of a few kilometres.

Ryan Leibel just barely made it through the access road onto the new overpass with this tractor. He said unless the curbs or medians are changed, other farmers will have similar issues. (CBC)

Not an oversight, Ministry of Highways says

The provincial Ministry of Highways said access road width was "absolutely not" an oversight.

"The interchange is, in fact, designed for large trucks, and farming equipment can get through," said David Stearns, executive director of major projects for the ministry.

Stearns said drivers carrying large equipment may have to drive onto the curb.

Evidence of tire marks rubbing against a curb on the new overpass.

He said the ministry has a meeting on Tuesday with the Regina bypass builders to discuss the issue, including making changes to the curbs.

"Clearly we wouldn't want to see a farmer having their tires scuffed. So, we are looking to make some potential changes to some of the curbs, where instead of having square faced curbs, we would have rounded curbs."

Stearns said any project of this magnitude will need some modifications and cosmetic changes. He did not give a specific figure on how much changing the curbs would cost, but said it would not exceed the budget.

NDP says design 'lacks common sense'

The NDP said the construction "bypasses Saskatchewan farmers' needs."

"Anyone with common sense would know that this new bypass would need to accommodate things like large agricultural equipment," said NDP interim leader Nicole Sarauer.

Leibel agreed that "if you want to make it farmer friendly, you'd think you would have went out and measured some farm equipment to make sure that whatever it is you're building it cost a billion dollars to do ... you do it right."

Of the 12 interchanges planned for the bypass, the Balgonie overpass is the only one with a roundabout, making it the only one with this particular access road feature.

The White City overpass is slated to open this week.


About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 12 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

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