With three streets in the CAA’s Top 10 Worst Roads in Saskatchewan, the City of Regina obviously has some work to do.
To that end, the city announced Tuesday it’s going to spend $16.5 million to improve 18 kilometres of residential roads during the 2022 construction season.
The city is set to spend $118 million this year: $25 million on improvements to the drinking water system; $24 million on bridge improvements; $19 million in fixes to major roads and traffic infrastructure; $18 million to upgrade the wastewater system; $17 million to improve residential roads and pedestrian routes; and, $15 million for drainage improvements.
“We know that road construction and road repair remain near the very top of the priority list for residents of our city and this investment is reflective of that priority,” Mayor Sandra Masters said.
“There are only so many months a year that this construction can happen and so construction season is rough, but administration is working very diligently to ensure that the disruptions that Regina residents experience are kept to a minimum.”
The new season also sees the premiere of a new ad campaign which Kim Onrait, executive director of citizen services, said “lightens the mood a bit”.
The new ad campaign, in part, puts safety at the forefront. Onrait said the safety of employees, contractors and residents is of the highest importance.
“We see it each year (with) traffic flows, people not paying attention to construction zones and the marking within construction zones,” said Onrait.
The infrastructure investments include seven major projects, including three that were already started (drainage improvements in North Central, infrastructure improvements on McCarthy Boulevard, and the new Winnipeg Street overpass).
Of the big projects this summer, Kurtis Doney — the city’s director of water, waste and environment — said the North Central drainage project may not be the most impactful in terms of traffic, but it will have a big impact on people living in the area.
He said it’s important for people to pay attention to the information the city is giving them about access and changes in services.
Chris Warren, director of roadways and transportation, said the Winnipeg Street overpass work will likely have the biggest impact on drivers.
“When we talk about scope and scale of the roadways projects, I think the Winnipeg Street overpass project is probably going to be one of the bigger projects that we’ve seen in recent memory,” said Warren.
It’s the last year of the two-year project but it will take the whole construction season to finish. Warren said there will be various closures and restrictions on Ring Road and Winnipeg Street.
“We are planning to minimize those impacts by doing some of that work where we need those closures or major restrictions on Ring Road overnight,” said Warren.
Four new projects — a drainage improvement project in the northeast, a sewer relining on Arcola Avenue, road improvements on Albert Street from Third Avenue to First Avenue North, and improvements along south and north Lewvan Drive — are also planned.
The work on Lewvan Drive will include reworking the intersection at Regina Avenue to widen Lewvan and separate the left turning lane from northbound traffic.
It’s unclear which streets are to get worked on under the Residential Road Renewal program, which is now in its seventh year. To date, 166.8 kilometres of residential roads have been improved.
The city announced it’s increasing its focus on: Sidewalk repairs; improving intersection safety through new traffic signals and pedestrian crosswalks; rehabilitating water and sewer infrastructure and using trenchless methods to reduce the impact of the work on residents; and, improving active transportation systems by building new multi-use pathways along McCarthy Boulevard and Sunset Drive.
Of the roads named to the CAA’s Top 10 Worst Roads list in 2022, Regina is home to three.
However, all three were already on the list of projects to be dealt with in the coming construction season before the list came out.
Warren said work on Grant Drive has already started, Ingersoll Crescent will be resurfaced this summer, and a two-year project will be started this season on Mayfair Crescent.
In trying to explain how the three Regina roads were allowed to get to this point, Onrait said that a while ago Regina had a few years of zero per cent tax increases.
“That eventually will catch up to where you’re not investing. So you’re not investing early on when the roads could have used some investment, so we are playing a little bit of catch-up and have been over the last few years,” said Onrait.
In 2015, city council decided to put in a one per cent dedicated funding for roads, which is at about $16.5 million now.
Onrait also explained how the city chooses which roads get worked on when, saying it’s a combination of two factors: Looking at conditions to work on the very poor condition roads, but also balancing with roads that aren’t as bad.
“So you extend the roadway network by doing that and not just focusing on poor roads,” said Onrait.