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Drivers who travel Highway 39 will notice road building crews working
on several upgrades to this stretch of highway that connects Weyburn
to Estevan south through to North Portal near the U.S. border and north
connecting to Highway 1 near Moose Jaw.
The Highway 39 project includes the addition of five sets of passing
lanes; nearly 25 kilometres of shoulder widening and resurfacing from
North Portal to the Roche Percee access; more than 12 kilometres of resurfacing
from Ralph to Weyburn; four rural municipality road realignments;
upgrades to almost two kilometres of rural municipality roads
and safety improvements at four intersections.
Construction began in April and is ongoing through the fall.
Improving driver sightlines is the goal in realigning rural municipality
roads. These grid roads are deemed primary or high-traffic and will be realigned
so they intersect with Highway 39 at a 90-degree angle.
In the 2020–21 Saskatchewan budget, the government provided $13 million
to enhance intersection safety and $7 million in safety improvements to
alleviate frequency and severity of collisions. This is the second year of the
government’s five-year, $100-million commitment to highway safety.
Once construction is complete, drivers will experience a wider stretch
of highway and levelled shoulder beginning just south of Estevan through
to North Portal.
The project, when completed, will see five sets of passing lanes (10
lanes total) added between Estevan and Weyburn and resurfacing between
the two cities and just north of the U.S. border.
“I know every vehicle on the road has a purpose, whether it’s a family
on vacation or someone driving to work or a semitruck driver delivering
cargo. We’re all there for different reasons,” said Young. “But we all have
one common goal – to arrive safely.
“I know you can’t twin or resurface every inch of highway in the province,
but any time I hear of this kind of work being done I know it’s another
step in the right direction. Who knows how many lives it will save?”
Highway 39 has experienced its share of upgrades recently. In 2017, a
twinning project, similar to a bypass or truck route, east of Estevan opened
to the public. This project included 10 kilometres of twinning on Highway
39 from east of Estevan to southeast of its junction with Highway 18, a
stretch of road that sees approximately 6,000 vehicles daily.
The junction of highways 39 and 18 east of Estevan near Bienfait also
was realigned to a 90-degree angle.
Highway 39 also is one of Canada’s busiest roadways. It is estimated
that more than $6 billion in trade goods via approximately 100,000
trucks travel this route each year.
Consider, too, the population growth in the province’s southeast corner
means more vehicles on the road. Weyburn’s population exceeds
11,000 and 2019 marked the 15th year out of the past 16 when the population
increased. Estevan’s population hovers near 12,000, with an additional
700 living in rural municipalities.
VITPHO / 123RF
thinkbigmagazine.ca | Quarter 4 2020 | Think BIG 23