Not everybody is pleased with the route sketched out for the proposed bypass south and southeast of Regina.
The provincial Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure knows that, but figures the proposed route — notably a major intersection 400 metres east of Tower Road and the Trans-Canada Highway — remains the best option.
“We and our consultants have assessed a number of potential locations for that terminus and all of them increase the cost of the bypass, but generate little additional benefit,” said ministry spokesman Doug Wakabayashi.
The South Regina and Southeast Regina bypasses are part of a plan — some say it’s the biggest infrastructure project in the province’s history — to move intercity traffic off congested Victoria Avenue East, and also build interchanges at three growing communities: Pilot Butte, White City/Emerald Park and Balgonie.
“We think the design of it is wrong,” says Reginan Allen Mryglod, who owns land in the area and says a group of worried private and commercial landowners have been meeting over the project.
Mryglod — who emphasized he’s speaking for himself, not for the group — said the City of Regina’s intention to annex land near this intersection boosts the price of land that the province must acquire for the project. “The cost would be insane,” he said Tuesday.
It also increases the odds the Southeast Bypass soon will be surrounded by development in the same way the existing bypass has been “leapt over” by University Park, Gardiner Park and retail areas.
But Wakabayashi said such development “is not necessarily a problem.” That’s because the bypass would be a controlled-access highway with no stop lights, only on/off ramps. “It’s not going to be like Victoria Avenue East, where you have seven sets of traffic lights between the Ring Road and the cemetery. There are going to be limited opportunities to get on and off this thing.”
Mryglod also sees a third potential problem: The proposed design of highway and interchange near Tower Road. To get traffic eastbound on Victoria Avenue over a set of north-south railway tracks, he says the ministry proposes to take vehicles onto a curved overpass set on concrete piers two, possibly three, levels high and with a five-per-cent grade — something he says will increase the odds of dangerous freezing conditions and loss of control. “The resulting accidents could be Regina’s version of the Lac Megantic disaster,” he wrote in a recent letter to The Leader-Post.
Mryglod says a better approach would be having the Southeast Bypass meet the Trans-Canada Highway at what’s called “the gravel pit road” midway between Tower Road and the turnoff to Pilot Butte.
The ministry replies that neither of these intersections leave room for “system overpasses ... the connection from the highway to the south bypass”.
And as for the idea the ministry should “go long” and build a bypass that goes from, say Pinkie Road to Balgonie, that would need several additional kilometres of roadway, said Wakabayashi. “But at the same time, you’d still need the overpasses on Highway 1 East.”