REGINA – The province and Mayor Michael Fougere spent Monday morning touting the benefits of the Regina Bypass, and called it the biggest infrastructure project in provincial history.The project is expected to create 8,200 construction related jobs.“We’re estimating that 50 to 60 per cent of the trucks will be diverted,” Saskatchewan Trucking Association President Al Rosseker said. Story continues below
This truck movement is part of the reason Fougere supports the project. He said semis travelling on the east portion of Victoria Avenue and the west end of Dewdney Ave result in increased repair needs. He said the city spent millions resurfacing a large portion of Victoria last year alone.“The bypass around the city is also equally important for the safety on Victoria Avenue, for the safety on Dewdney Avenue for those residents,” the mayor said.“This is all about growing our economy in a time when it’s slowing down a bit.”However the project doesn’t come without critics.The NDP continue to ask why the cost of the bypass ballooned from an initial $400 million to about $2 billion.They also take issues with the private partners in this P3 project. French company Vinci Concessions is the largest private partner and this doesn’t sit well with NDP leader Cam Broten.” The government might try to shoehorn in a little bit of local content, but the big cheques, the responsibility, this is going out of country,” Broten said in Saskatoon.However, the government says Saskatchewan-based companies are benefitting. According to the province, about 20 are currently contracted to work on the bypass.“There is a great benefit to Saskatchewan companies, Saskatchewan workers, and then when the bypass is completed obviously the people who drive it every day,” Highways Minister Nancy Heppner said.“So I believe Saskatchewan is well represented and the benefits are there.”These contracts also provide assurance to construction companies. The Broda Group has about 120 workers currently staffed on the project, and expects that number to reach 180 in the summer.“In a bit of this economic uncertainty it’s excellent for us to have a couple of seasons of backlog that makes us comfortable and keeps our people happy,” co-owner Gordie Broda said.Phase one of the bypass, connecting Balgonie and Highway 33, is expected to be finished next year. The second phase, extending through the Trans-Canada to Highway 11, is expected to be finished in December 2019.