(9 June 2014)
Important Highway & Traffic Safety Initiatives
A series of important announcements were made during the past week that will greatly impact traffic safety in this constituency and around the province.
Saskatchewan people will be safer on provincial roadways with the introduction of two new Dedicated Traffic Safety Enforcement Units. Each unit will consist of 30 officers, 15 from existing provincially funded positions and 15 new officers funded by SGI. The two units will begin operating in central and southeast Saskatchewan. Up until now, Saskatchewan has not had a dedicated highway traffic enforcement unit. Saskatchewan has one of the worst rates of injury and collisions on highways. With 60 more officers dedicated to enforcing traffic laws, drivers will have additional encouragement to change behaviours that could result in a traffic collision, making our roads safer for all road users.
Also announced last week was the introduction of reduced speed zones at two high traffic highways that have seen high collision rates, including one on Highway 12 at Martensville. The speed limit has been reduced from 110 to 90 km/h for a three kilometer stretch at Martensville. As Martensville residents know, turning left across the divided highway to drive towards Saskatoon can be dangerous, and it is hoped that with reduced speed, the frequency and severity of collisions can be reduced.
We all realize that the ultimate solution to the busy intersections at Martensville and Warman are overpasses, and your government is working towards that goal. Overpasses take a long time to plan and build and until such time as they are in place, we all need to do what we can to make it safer for ourselves, our families and other drivers on the road. The intent here is to save lives, and reducing your speed by 20 km/h for three kilometers will only cost you 22 seconds, and it may save someone’s life.
Finally, earlier this week we announced that the province of Saskatchewan will contribute $50 million to the North Commuter Parkway Bridge in Saskatoon as part of tripartite deal with the City of Saskatoon and the Government of Canada. This will allow a north bridge to be built in about two years that will ease traffic congestion and allow for smoother traffic flow for Saskatoon and area residents.
I was honoured to be asked by the Premier last week to serve as your new Minister of Highways. There are many challenges in the province to meet the current demands of the growth that we have welcomed into the province. More people and more jobs mean more traffic and busier roads, and the infrastructure needs to accommodate that reality. That is my challenge as Minister of Highways and one that I will be working hard on your behalf to achieve.
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