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Premier Brad Wall and federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz were on hand alongside Mayor Don Atchison to announce funding for the North Commuter Parkway and Traffic Bridge replacement project.  

 

"This is an exciting day for all the citizens of Saskatoon... To be able to get both bridges announced together -- the Parkway Commuter and the Traffic Bridge is absolutely fantastic," said Atchison.

 

The bridges will be constructed under a public-private partnership (P3) with public funding split three ways between the city, provincial and federal governments.

 

"It's a quarter billion dollar project here. And if we were going to try and finance it conventionally, without a P3, we wouldn't be announcing this. I mean, governments don't have those kind of resources," said Wall

The North Commuter Parkway Bridge will connect the city’s Marquis Industrial Area to University Heights, with the goal of easing congestion and speeding up travel times for the burgeoning population of the city’s north end.

The Traffic Bridge project will see the 107-year-old span in downtown Saskatoon replaced in order to accommodate further growth in the city’s core.

The province had committed to providing cash in its budget delivered back in March. Monday’s announcement earmarked $50 million towards the venture.

 

During negotiations earlier this year, the province had said that the Traffic Bridge, connecting to city roads in the core of Saskatoon -- wasn't a suitable project for the province to fund as it didn't link to any provincial roads.  But the North Commuter Parkway was a project they said they could get behind. 

 

Wall acknowledges that the bundled P3 will see provincial dollars flowing to the Traffic Bridge after all -- but he noted that the North Commuter is what got the province to the table.

 

"(The $50 million) is for the overall P3 partnership and we've identified this one particular project as fitting in better with the provincial infrastructure," he said.

 

Ottawa’s portion is an investment of up to $66 million to be delivered under the P3 Canada Fund.

A Request for Qualifications is set to be issued in the next few months to identify private companies interested in bidding on the project.  The company that gets picked will design, build, finance and maintain the bridges over a 30-year period.

 

"It's one contractor, two bridges," said Atchison, adding that the bundled project is the first of its kind in Canada.

Construction of the bridges is expected to be completed within about two years of a start date that has yet to be determined.

 

Source: News Talk Radio Staff 2012, News Talk 650,  9 June 2014,   http://www.newstalk650.com/story/new-bridges-announced-saskatoon/363844

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