$1.8B Regina Bypass project set to fully open Tuesday
The Regina Bypass re-routes TransCanada Highway traffic away from the city
Four years and $1.8 billion later, the Regina Bypass is set to open Tuesday.
A ceremonial opening of the Regina Bypass was held on Monday morning, a day before normal traffic would commence. The bypass, the largest highway project in Saskatchewan's history, re-routes TransCanada Highway traffic away from the city.
At the ceremony Monday, Premier Scott Moe spoke about the economic opportunity and the safety the bypass will offer.
"The Regina bypass will save lives," Moe said. "Too many families have a received a phone call or received that knock on the door with sad news."
The sad news of a collision along that stretch of highway is all too familiar to Wanda Campbell. Her 17-year-old son Lane was on his way to Dairy Queen six years ago when he died in a highway collision.
He was trying to cross the TransCanada highway east of Regina, an infamously dangerous stretch of highway one.
"For these communities it is truly about safety. And for me personally I never wanted another parent to hear those words 'Your child has been killed in a fatal collision along the Number 1 Highway,'" said Campbell.
The project includes 12 overpasses and 40 kilometres of four-lane highway. It's expected to divert semi truck traffic, — which will in theory ease congestion on the highways and make Regina streets safer — and make it easier and safer for drivers to merge onto Highway 1.
White City Fire Chief Randy Schulz has already seen the impact of the bypass.
"We don't get the calls that we used to," he said. "We haven't used our jaws of life in two years."
The opposition NDP praised the safety offered to drivers now that the project has been completed, but said the economic benefits may have been overblown.
"My biggest concern is the amount that's spent on the west Regina bypass," said Cathy Sproule, NDP MLA and Global Transportation Hub critic.
Sproule said the GTH is currently running a $40 million deficit.
"Generations of taxpayers are now going to have to bear the burden of paying for that."
With files from Bonnie Allen