Moosomin’s mayor says he is frustrated with Saskatchewan Highways.
Both Moosomin Mayor Larry Tomlinson and RM of Moosomin Reeve David Moffatt both say they are willing to do what it takes to create a truck bypass.
The two local governments and Saskatchewan Highways entered into an agreement in 2015 to jointly fund an engineering study on the truck route. The highways department completed the first step, a traffic count, but spent only two hours on the count and concluded that most Highway 8 traffic was destined for Moosomin, not passing through.
The town has requested a more thorough count and offered to help with its resources.
Tomlinson said he met with Moosomin MLA Steven Bonk to discuss concerns over a lack of action by Saskatchewan Highways on the file, and a lack of funding for rehabilitating Highway 8 through town. Moosomin is part of the Urban Highway Connector Program.
Under the program, the Ministry of Highways promises to partner with municipalities with streets that are also designated highways in four areas: Capital Investment, Routine Operation and Maintenance, Infrastructure Rehabilitation, and Urban Transportation Planning Studies. Under the program, the province would pay the entire cost of the first rehabilitation of Highway 8 through Moosomin.
Tomlinson said the town had sought provincial funding for rehabilitation of Main Street last year, and was told the work could be done in a future year. He says this year, the town was told the funding was used up on highway projects around Regina.
“I think they need to be pushed more,” Tomlinson said Thursday. “We were supposed to be having a meeting a month ago, we talked to them a week ago, we were supposed to have a meeting this week, but it hasn’t happened.
“We did have a meeting with the MLA. He got to the right people and a meeting was supposed to come out of that. He talked to them, they called us and said they would set something up, but it didn’t happen.”
Tomlinson said the town and RM have committed to the engineering study but the highways department appears to be dragging its feet.
“We’ll do what we need to do but we need this meeting with Highways to get things rolling,” he said.
“There is a basic drawing to the west of town. It would at least be a truck route which is all we’re looking for at this point.
“It’s frustrating because we have been pushing to move ahead on this. When we couldn’t get anywhere, we went through Steven Bonk to try to speed this up. I know he did talk to them and they called us but they seem to have dropped the ball again.”
History of highways issues
The idea of a bypass or truck route to the west of town was first discussed when Highway 1 was being twinned.
After the twinning was completed in 2008, the proposal was taken to the South East Transportation Planning Committee, which identifies highway priorities in southeast Saskatchewan
The proposal went to the provincial level and in 2015 that the Town of Moosomin and RM of Moosomin met with representatives from Saskatchewan Highways. At a meeting in September 2015, the town and RM were told provincial funding for a bypass would be a long way off, but a truck route around the town could be looked at.
The ministry of highways agreed to cover 75 per cent of the cost of an engineering study on the truck route, with the town and RM jointly covering 25 per cent to a maximum of $10,000.
The town had met with Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure on April 28, 2015, to discuss the complete rehabilitation of Highway 8 from the south edge of Wright Road to the north edge of Park Avenue.
Under the Urban Highway Connector Program, the first rehabilitation is at the entire cost of the province of Saskatchewan. At the 2015 meeting the town was advised that Highway 8 would not be rebuilt in 2015, however, but would be placed on a list for co-ordination with other work in the area in upcoming years.
On June 8 of this year, the town met with Doug Kelly, Director of Traffic Engineering and Development, and Harold Retzlaff, Director of Transportation Planning for Saskatchewan Highways.
Highways informed the town they had done a truck traffic study on April 20 between the hours of 11 am and 1 pm.
Spotters were set up at Wright Road and Hwy 8, Park Avenue and Main Street, and Main Street and Highway 1.
According to Saskatchewan Highways, the data collected indicated that out of 83 vehicles, only 28 were through traffic, meaning that they passed through two or three of the count locations. Town officials questioned the count and requested that a more comprehensive study be conducted.
The town offered to assist with a more comprehensive count by offering staff for conducting surveys and traffic control. The survey would involve stopping traffic and asking a short group of questions about origin, destination, plan stops and duration of stop over.
The highways officials said the ministry would be able to provide a “letter of endorsement” in hopes of securing funds from MREP, Municipal Rural Economic Priority, which this area may be eligible for with the town and RM working together to provide a truck bypass.
The next step would be a more comprehensive Destination Study to determine how much truck traffic is passing through town and how much is destined for town.
Highways officials also indicated that funds for the Urban Highway Connector Program had been allocated to large projects in Regina and Saskatoon.
Since the June 8 meeting, the town has been unable to secure another meeting with Saskatchewan Highways.