Saskatchewan Highways has completed its report into an alternate truck route for Highway 8 truck traffic, to take truck traffic off Moosomin’s Main Street.
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.
In 2011, the town of Moosomin indicated its preference to the South East Transportation Planning Committee for a truck route west of town.
The alternative would have been a route that met Highway 1 at the East Access Road, and council expressed concerns that traffic would be backed up waiting to get onto Highway 1, blocking access to the Co-op gas bar and Tim Hortons.
The proposal for the west truck route or bypass went to the provincial level and in 2015 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 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.
A year ago, in June of 2016, members of Moosomin town council met with Saskatchewan Highways officials about the Highway 8 truck route.
At that meeting, the preferred route identified by the town would run between the Parrish and Heimbecker terminal and Highway 709 (the lake road) one mile west of Highway 8.
The route would require one mile of road to be built on an undeveloped road allowance south of Broadway West.
Highways officials indicated at that meeting that they would be able to provide a letter of endorsement in hopes of securing funds from the Municipal Rural Economic Priority program, which the town and the RM may be eligible for if they work together.
Since then, the department of highways has completed two origin-destination studies to determine how traffic is flowing along Highway 8 through Moosomin, and has now completed an Alternate Truck Route report.
“The objective of this project is to select a route for an alternate truck route around the town of Moosomin, Saskatchewan,” the report begins. “This alternate route will re-route heavy truck traffic around the community and create another access between Highway 8 south and Highway 1. This route will use pre-existing gravel roads surrounding the community.”
The study looked at three different potential routes to the west of town (see map on page 3). It looked at all sorts of concerns for each route, including concerns expressed by the RM, proximity to homes, and railway crossing safety.
The study concludes that the route first identified by the town is the best.
The study concludes, “Based on the data collected, the alternative that best meets the needs of the Town and RM of Moosomin is Route 1B. This route is on the west side of town, it had the least amount of risk associated with it, and it had the shortest travel time of the three routes, compared to the baseline route. Route 1B also has a safer intersection at Highway 1, provides access to the local grain elevator, and has the safest rail crossing.”
The route would require the RM of Moosomin to develop a section of undeveloped road allowance.
The study resulted in five recommendations, one of which is to temporarily use route 1A as a truck route until the section of roadway can be built.
Following are the complete recommendations of the study:
1) Permanent signage should be placed at the access points from Highway 1 and Highway 8 South.
2) RM should address signage issues found in intersection analysis
3) Until section 1 of Route 1B is completed, Route 1A should be used as a temporary alternate heavy truck route.
4) Route 1B should be built up to handle the additional weight, due to the increased heavy truck traffic that will utilize the route as an alternate truck route if the RM selects it. It is recommended that an application be submitted to the Municipal Roads for the Economy Program so that Route 1B can get a CTP designated.
5) Route 1B should be given a Dangerous Goods Route designation. The route can receive this designation if approved by the RM.
The report was sent to the town of Moosomin May 19 from Tanya MacDonald of Saskatchewan Highways.
McDonald commented in the email “We recommend that the Town and RM review the recommendations and follow up with the Ministry if you have further questions or to discuss next steps. The intent of forming an Alternate Truck Route Partnership can be expressed by the affected municipalities, and once the intent has been expressed, representatives from both MHI and the municipalities can meet to discuss the details of the partnership.”
Moosomin Mayor Larry Tomlinson said the preferred route suggested by the Highways study is also the town’s preferred route.
“That’s the route that we have talked about as being the best,” he said. “To me, that’s the town’s preferred route, and they have part of that mile built already because of the new lots going in there.”
Tomlinson said he is happy that the highways department appears prepared to move ahead with the truck route.
“It looks like we have got to the point where they’re listening to us,” he said. “We’ve had many meetings. It’s good to get this back in writing that says they’re willing to go ahead with something in conjunction with us and the RM.
“We’ve waited since last fall for this report to actually come in. Some people think we haven’t been doing much to get the trucks off Main Street, but we have sure been trying. Everything seems to take time with the department of highways, though, so I’m glad we have this back from them now.
“The next thing will be to find out if they have some money to help with this. It sounds like they might help us somewhat.
“We need to sit down with the RM and talk to them and then go back to the department of highways in conjunction with the RM.
“Hopefully we can get something moving.”
Tomlinson said the safety of students crossing Main Street is one of the prime motivators to move truck traffic off Main Street and onto the alternate truck route.
“The big thing for us is to get the semis off Main Street,” he said. “We slowed the section the length of the school to 30 km mainly because of the kids.
“There are three crosswalks that they use when they’re coming from the school. It’s the safety of the children more than anything that we are looking at, at this point. There are a lot of kids that cross that street.”