The Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways is announcing that the Pilot Butte Overpass will open a full year early, in the fall of 2018.
The goal was originally for that overpass to open in the fall of 2019 because of extensive underground utilities that needed attention in the area, but Minister Nancy Heppner said that work has already been completed.
“The utility moves were done far faster than we had anticipated,” she explained, adding they also secured land from the Ochapowace First Nation.
The intersection on Highway 1 has been known to be the scene of many deadly crashes over the past several years. People living in the nearby communities held rallies with the theme #dyingwaiting last summer calling for traffic lights in the interim. The speed limit was recently reduced to 80 kilometres per hour along that stretch.
“It was just dangerous,” said Pilot Butte Mayor Nat Ross. “Our fire department attends to accidents and the number of accidents have gone down dramatically since the speed reduction.”
Ross said the community is absolutely delighted the overpass project will be moved up a full year, believing there will soon be less stress on drivers, especially new drivers traveling near the town.
At least two lanes of the overpass will be open to traffic heading north or south by the fall of 2017. Other overpasses at Balgonie, White City and Tower Road are expected to open in October of that year. The entire Regina Bypass project will be finished in 2019.