EDITORIAL: Highway plans have pros and cons

Plans to twin Highways 6 and 39 from Regina down to North Portal are moving along, with a second round of open houses held in three communities along Highway 39 to gauge the views and concerns of area residents — and by that gauge, some are happy with the planned routes, while others will be drastically affected by the proposed “preferred routes” and are hoping for changes to be made.
Among the “preferred routes” is a plan to take the traffic of Highway 39 and completely bypass the city of Weyburn to the south, which will affect a number of residents directly, and will affect the business community of the city in a negative way as the majority of the traffic will be drawn to go around the city.
To be fair, there are both pros and cons with any of the options put forward by the engineering consultants as possible routes for the new twinned highway.
Among the points in favour of the proposed bypass is that the heavy trucks carrying hazardous goods will now be safely out of the city as they travel through the area; however, that still leaves the hazardous goods transported by rail through the city, but this is a situation that may never be changed, as the cost to move rail lines would be astronomical. A better use of funds would be to make the transportation of these goods safer as they are shipped across the country, and hopefully avoid having another disaster like Lac-Megantic, Que., that caused such devastation.
Another point which should be noted is the process of twinning the highway is very, very early on, with another two or three years of planning yet to occur. This next process is the “functional planning” process, where the actual routes will be determined, including studying the actual layout taking into account where environmentally-sensitive land locations are, and the presence of businesses and homes, and of such facilities as the Weyburn Golf Course.
It may well take several years before one speck of dirt is moved in the Weyburn region for the new highway twinning project. Most motorists will be happy there will be something done to alleviate the growing pressure of heavy truck traffic on a two-lane highway, and the number of fatalities will hopefully decrease as a result too.
By the time that work does get underway here, hopefully the concerns of groups, businesses and residents will be addressed, and a workable solution will be put in place.

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