Regina Bypass seeing 5,600 vehicles per day, but 21,000 expected by 2040

The government of Saskatchewan says the bypass is averaging 5,630 vehicles, including 1,230 trucks, daily.

Project costs estimated at around $2B

The Regina Bypass opened officially on Oct. 29. (Bonnie Allen/CBC)

In its first month of operation, the Regina Bypass is averaging 5,630 vehicles, including 1,230 trucks, daily.

That's far lower than the 21,000 vehicles per day the Sask Builds website said were expected.

The Saskatchewan government said Wednesday afternoon that the 21,000 figure refers to the year 2040.

Traffic volumes on existing roads near the Bypass range from about 11,500 to 25,000 vehicles per day, the website said.

The bypass was officially opened on Oct. 29 after four years of construction.

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said the low number of vehicles shows just how overbuilt the bypass project was in terms of the need for infrastructure to get around Regina. 

"This has been predictable from day one," he said. "There just wasn't the demand [before it was built] and the fact that the GTH has been such an abysmal failure has only made that absolutely certain, that that demand wouldn't be there."

Meili noted the project costs ballooned from a "reasonable" $400 million project that would address safety issues that existed, to an over $2 billion project. 

Moe says the bypass makes the roads safer

Premier Scott Moe took questions about the numbers after Wednesday's question period. 

He cited the Saskatoon south commuter bypass as an example of a project taking a bit of time to hit its projected usage numbers. 

"It took over a year before [that project] even got close to some of the targets that they had on that particular road," Moe said. "By no means is this any time to say that the bypass isn't achieving what it set out to do." 

Moe said in terms of safety, the bypass is diverting traffic from Regina and therefore achieving what it was supposed to do: make the roads safer for drivers in the city.

The government news release indicated that every truck that uses the bypass is a truck that used to have to go through the City of Regina, therefore roads in the city's east end are safer and less congested.

Highways and Infrastructure Minister Greg Ottenbreit said the government is encouraged by the bypass use. 

"The improved safety and efficiency of the project for people travelling in the Regina area is great and we are excited to see even more traffic use the route as people familiarize themselves with the new infrastructure," he said in a prepared statement. 

With files from Bryan Eneas