While there may not be any visible signs of progress on the Estevan truck bypass file, rest assured there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes as provincial Highways and Infrastructure and other government agencies push the project further along.
"There are at least three or four different things happening around this project right now," said Rosann Semchuk, executive director of communications for Highways and Infrastructure.
The master plan calls for a heavy truck bypass configuration that would accommodate large commercial traffic around Estevan. It would circumvent the city from Highway 39 in the southeast around to the northwest sector where it would rejoin Highway 39. The new highway would also accommodate commercial traffic entering and exiting Estevan on Highway 47 south and north.
"There is an environmental review and assessment underway and that involves the Environment Ministry as well as ours," she said. "We should hear about an approval for the project from these people around October."
Another piece of necessary business that has to be completed before any construction begins is the removal and replacement of certain utilities located along the new route.
"There are a number of utilities that have to be moved and several agencies and companies are involved in that such as SaskPower, SaskTel, TransGas and so on. Some will be moved this year and the costing and co-ordination of these moves is moving along on schedule," Semchuk added.
Land acquisition is another file that is moving forward. Semchuk said there are more than two dozen landowners involved in the new design and situation and the ministry must negotiate with all of them to acquire the land that is required for the truck route. "Some of the required property has been purchased already, but not all of it yet," said Semchuk.
Then there is the actual design of the 12 kilometre two-lane bypass route which is also ongoing.
Semchuk said the ministry had received information from the City of Estevan regarding the possibility of another entrance onto the bypass at Kensington Avenue north, but the current proposal does not include one. There is a proposal however to upgrade the Bienfait grid road approximately one mile south of the proposed truck route that would enable traffic to cross the truck route north on Kensington onto an upgraded Bienfait grid.
"Highway officials are waiting to hear from Estevan's city council about that proposal," Semchuk said.
In the meantime, the rest of the design elements are going into the final plan.
"It's possible there could be a grading tender for an actual start of construction issued in the late fall or sometime into winter if everything keeps moving forward at the current pace," Semchuk said.