Sod turned on Circle Drive South project

Nearly a century after a ring road in Saskatoon was first discussed, work has begun on the last piece of Circle Drive.

On a rainy Friday morning, Mayor Don Atchison was joined in Diefenbaker Park by Premier Brad Wall and Conservative MP Stockwell Day at the official sod turning for the Circle Drive South project. At a total estimated cost of $288 million, it is far and away the most expensive public project ever in Saskatoon.

“This is a moment in history,” said Atchison.

“The Circle Drive South project, including the new south bridge, will finally make Circle Drive a complete circle. It will allow our citizens get to where they need to go faster and more efficiently, and connect our east and west end communities. With tremendous support from the federal and provincial governments, we have improved the connectivity and cultural well-being of our city, now and into the future.”

Cost of the project is being shared between the federal government ($96 million), the provincial government ($98.5 million), the City of Saskatoon ($93 million) and the Rural Municipality of Corman Park ($200,000).

The South Bridge project includes:

– A bridge across the South Saskatchewan River north of the CN bridge;

– Seven kilometres of four-lane freeway leading up to the bridge; the bridge will be six lanes;

– Interchanges at Idylwyld Freeway, Lorne Avenue and Valley Road;

– Once the city’s population hits 250,000, the bridge is expected to carry close to 30,000 vehicles per day;

– Benefits include an estimated 35 per cent reduction in traffic on the Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge during afternoon rush hour;

– Some truck traffic would be diverted off 22nd Street West.

“This is one more step the provincial government is taking to support the growth of our major urban centres,” said Wall.

“This massive project will improve the flow of traffic in and around Saskatoon, improve efficiency for shippers to connect with national and international trade routes, reduce congestion and enhance safety.”

Among the benefits being touted by government officials are shorter commuting distances and a 35-per-cent reduction in traffic on the Sid Buckwold Bridge during afternoon rush hour.

City council in March awarded the contract to build the bridge, freeway and interchanges to joint-venture Graham Construction-Flatiron Construction Corp. for a guaranteed $224 million, a price estimated to be between $30 million and $40 million under budget.

The price was also $47 million less than any of the other bidders.

The new south bridge is expected to open October 1, 2012.


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