Waiting for trains to pass through Saskatoon is costing the city more than just lost time.
The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) released results of a study last Thursday. It found the local economy loses $2.5 million of Gross Domestic Product per year as a result of traffic delays at the nine major rail crossings in the city.
“The lost GDP is due to lost labour productivity to businesses in the Saskatoon region,” explained Alex Fallon, SREDA president and CEO, in a news release Nov. 10.
In the same release, Saskatoon’s director of transportation, Angela Gardiner, said the study provided a measure of what the city has suspected for some time.
The findings were highlighted in a report for Monday’s meeting of the Standing Police Committee on Transportation.
In March, the Committee asked for the Railway Working Group to have its duties expanded to include looking at relocating railways.
The city said this additional mandate will be considered in the 2017 budget discussions at the end of November.
An upcoming feasibility study will look into the two options being considered: building grade separations at priority crossings or relocating Canadian Pacific rail infrastructure – including the Sutherland Yards.
Gardiner said if the CP relocation is deemed financially feasible, the study will likely look at something similar for CN. As it stands, CP has a greater impact on the city’s road network compared to CN.
Once council chooses an option, the second phase of the study will look into approaching other levels of government for funding.
The first phase of the study is set to be complete next year and presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation in early 2018.