New crossing likely at 33rd Street

New crossing likely at 33rd Street

New crossing likely at 33rd Street

Aerial photo of the train bridge and weir crossing the South Saskatchewan in 2014. The city is examining a bridge crossing at 33rd Street from Queen Street to Preston Avenue

Photograph by: Greg Pender , The StarPhoenix

A new core bridge in Saskatoon will likely connect 33rd Street to Preston Avenue.

The city’s latest round of public consultations on how Saskatoon should develop as its population expands presents the 33rd Street crossing as the only long-term option.

The city had previously proposed a bridge south of the University Bridge that would connect 24th Street to College Drive, but that option has since been abandoned.

Alan Wallace, the city’s director of planning and development, said a bridge at 33rd Street will have “a tremendous impact city wide, a positive impact” and was the “leading” option after two earlier rounds of public consultation.

A timeline for building and completion of the bridge – which would need to be approved by council before construction begins – remains vague.

“It’s not going to be open anytime real soon,” Wallace said. “It’s going to be anytime between 2018 and 2045.”

If built, the bridge is expected to take traffic pressure off Circle Drive Bridge and University Bridge, he said.

A 33rd-Street extension to a new bridge would traverse University of Saskatchewan land. Wallace said the city has been in conversation with the institution about placement of the bridge.

“We’ve got positive feedback, they like the idea of opening up their land with a bridge,” Wallace said.

He said the city would need to purchase some land from the university for the project, but said it was too early to say what kind of negotiations would take place. Michael Murphy, president of the City Park Community Association, said the new bridge was a contentious issue at the organization’s latest meeting Thursday.

“It’s fair to say there were diverse views on it,” he said.

The group did not settle on an official position, but some neighbourhood residents plan to voice their opinions at upcoming city meetings, he said.

Murphy recognized the need for more traffic flow options in Saskatoon.

“We are going to need more bridges as a growing city,” he said.

There were concerns about whether 33rd Street would be able to handle the increase in traffic. Some residents at the meeting also expressed the view that the money for a bridge could be better put to use elsewhere.

“A couple people suggested it would be better for the city to spend the money on transit,” he said.

The University of Saskatchewan could not be reached for comment Friday.

A 33rd-Street extension and bridge would have huge impacts on the people and businesses along 33rd Street. A spokesperson for the new 33rd Street Business Improvement District said its members have not formulated a stance on the proposed new bridge.

The city is holding two public events Tuesday to give information and gather input on its plans for growth. Events run at TCU Place from noon to 2 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and at Louis’ Loft from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – with files by Sean Trembath

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