Critics of the Regina bypass say there’s a hole in the plan, literally.
The NDP along with concerned Balgonie resident Jesse Edwards raised safety concerns on Monday after what they’re describing as a hole was discovered in the Tower Road overpass, three weeks ago.
The NDP received a video from another concerned citizen, who discovered what appeared to be a hole on the edge of the eastbound lanes along with erosion of the embankment below.
“Underneath it, there was a large cavern approximately five feet in, approximately 20 feet down the hill. It could be more, it’s hard to tell. It’s pretty dark down there,” said Edwards.
Edwards had also raised safety concerns in the past about the Main Street access to Highway 1 in Balgonie being closed as part of the bypass project.
“(The government) keeps quoting safety as a reason why we can’t have it. If safety is their number one concern, how have they allowed (the hole) to be here for three weeks without addressing it?”
The NDP called the hole a ‘glaring issue’ and described it as another example of the province rushing construction of the $2 billion bypass.
“It should be a top-of-the-line highway and everywhere we go, we find that there are problems with structures, with safety matters and yet the government keeps insisting that everything is fine,” said NDP highways and infrastructure critic Buckley Belanger.
He pointed to what he calls the illegal dumping of concrete and to the curb adjustments on the White City overpass which isn’t wide enough for farming equipment as examples of other issues.
Edwards wants the hole fixed as soon as possible.
“I think everybody should be concerned. I think it should have been fixed a long time ago.”
Typical for embankments built in Regina area: government
The province does not believe this is a safety concern.
Fred Antunes, deputy minister of Highways and Infrastructure, said soil erosion is not uncommon for new bridges built in the Regina area.
He said this happens all around the city, adding the soft soil is something we have to live with.
“What may be happening is as the water goes off the edge of the bridge, runs around the embankment, then maybe you get a washout because the water is channeled in different areas,” he said.
Antunes explained there is an area on the Tower Road overpass that the water is supposed to flow down. When that doesn’t happen the way it’s intended to on a new bridge, they have to go back and make adjustments.
He hasn’t seen this issue occur in other locations along the Regina Bypass, but Antunes described a similar problem on the Belle Plaine overpass on a number of occasions. They’ve added curbing to keep water off the embankments then snowplows would damage them and repairs would be needed.
While the NDP called it a “hole” on top of the Tower Road overpass, Antunes described it as a “dip” which formed on the shoulder of the road — it now appears somewhat patched over.
Antunes said the consortium in charge of the project, Regina Bypass Design Builders (RBDB), is aware of it and is in the process of repairing it. He said the speed limit was also reduced in the area.
Since the Regina Bypass is being built and maintained by RBDB over the next 30 years, Antunes said this is 100 per cent its responsibility. He encourages anyone who has concerns to contact RBDB.