Saskatchewan’s Highways Minister says the town of Balgonie outside of Regina must recognize the importance of its new overpass, as safety issues have been a major concern for not only residents and motorists, but the the provincial government as well.
But David Marit also agrees the community will have some adjustments to make since the overpass opened to traffic July 26th.
As a result, the overpass at the intersection of Highway 46 and the No. 1 at Balgonie permanently closed the town’s access point from Main Street to Highway 1.
“Being from a small town, I understand the importance of access to highways for the business community and residents within those towns,” Marit told 620 CKRM News. “First and foremost, this is about safety. There have been fatailities at that intersection — that Main Street access — over the past 10 to 12 years.”
At least one business owner has said the Main Street closure has had a negative effect on business in that community.
A restaurant owner in Balgonie says he will shut down his diner, adding the closure of the town’s main access to Highway 1 cut off his business.
As well, nearly 3,000 residents signed a petition for Balgonie highway access
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Marit says he believes Balgonie will prosper now the construction has moved out and motorists are learning how to navigate that area.
“That is a growing and thriving community,” Marit said. “And I would hope that with the overpass, that might even enhance that growth opportunity for the community of Balgonie. Knowing that the residents there will have safe access into the Number 1 Highway going into Regina.”
Marit says businesses in Balgonie can be accessed four other ways other than the Main Street route.
He says the community had, in the past, requested a safer route into Balgonie that would help with traffic as well as possibly prevent accidents.
“This goes back quite a few years when the community of Balgonie really did say that they needed an overpass,”Marit said. “We’ve accomodated them with that. And going back into the early ’90s, there was a letter written to the town that in the event a bypass was built, the Main Street access would have to be taken out.”
The overpass took two years to build.
People in the community had expressed frustration about a lack of action on the dangerous highway in the past.