No explanation for billion-dollar bypass boondoggle

Corporation from France to get millions to plow a few kilometres for the next 30 years

In a technical briefing regarding the Regina bypass, the Sask. Party couldn’t or wouldn’t explain how the price of the Regina Bypass has ballooned by over $1 billion.

The Regina Bypass has gone from $800 million, to $2 billion – not including the price of land – because the government is using a P3 rent-a-road scheme.

A corporation from France will build the bypass, and collect millions every year for the next 30 years in order to “operate” a section of highway, which includes having the corporation from France come in and plow the road.

“The Sask. Party couldn’t break down the $2 billion price tag, so we still don’t know why we’re paying double the original budget,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “It’s also mind-boggling that the Sask. Party is going to tell Saskatchewan workers to stop plowing a section of highway just outside Regina, they’ve hired a corporation from France do to it for millions of dollars.”

The technical briefing was allowed in response to a formal request from Wotherspoon, who wanted to discuss alternate options for the bypass. The NDP’s alternate bypass proposal includes:

  • Put up traffic lights at dangerous intersections at Highway 1 East immediately as an interim safety measure.
  • Take the overpasses on Highway 1 East out of the P3 contract with the corporation from France; build them immediately using local companies.
  • While the overpasses are being constructed, reevaluate the route and where the bypass connects to Highway 1. The NDP believes it should be further away from the city so it could actually divert traffic and allow for Regina to grow.

“Our plan gets traffic lights now, overpasses as fast or faster than waiting for the French company to do it, and a bypass in the right place,” said Wotherspoon. “We don’t want to end up five years from now with a frustrating bypass that isn’t making traffic flow better or safer, while we’re still on the hook for billions.

“It’s more clear all the time that a P3 is not the way to go on this project. While other jurisdictions – Ontario, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Alberta – are learning that P3s cost way more and provide way less in terms of service, control and flexibility, this government is determined to ram this bad deal through. They’re refusing to put some independent scrutiny on the numbers, and that’s just wrong.”