The eagerly anticipated bolstering of RCMP presence on southeastern Saskatchewan highways could begin as early as next week according to Inspector Andy Landers of the F Division traffic sector.
“We have one guy, Corporal Andrew Knowles, recently from the Fillmore area detachment moving in to take on the supervisory role as early as September 26,” said Landers.
The highway patrol constables will be working with investigation units in Weyburn and Estevan, he said.
Two more constables are in the process of being released from their current detachment duties elsewhere so they can transfer into Estevan to provide basic traffic enforcement along this region's busiest thoroughfares, most notably Highway 39 between North Portal and Weyburn.
“It's timely, it's needed,” said Landers.
The new constables will work out of the same office that houses the International Border Enforcement Team on Fourth Street.
“We want four constables filling the traffic detail as soon as possible and preferably we want six on the ground or on the highways,” said Landers. He said one of the RCMP members who is transferring into Estevan is coming from Broadview.
In the Estevan detachment, Sergeant Daryl Milo said he currently has five constables being deployed plus himself and he seconded the comment made by Inspector Landers.
“There are tons of aggressive driving complaints coming into our office from these highways and I'm referring to No.'s 18, 39 and 47,” Milo said.
“A lot of them are road rage items that we try to deal with as best we can, so the increased visibility of police on these highways will be a welcomed addition in this region,” he said.
That will no doubt come as welcome news to Marge Young and other members of the Estevan and Area Time to Twin committee who just issued a challenge during the Labour Day weekend.
Young said the RCMP had made a statement they would be out in force on Saskatchewan's Highways 1, 7, 11 and 16 because they were the highways with the most traffic. She said that while any increased presence and enforcement on the highways is welcomed, she was troubled by the fact that the RCMP apparently weren't aware of the fact that Highway 39 should have been included in this list of high traffic throughways.
She said while it is true Highways 1 and 11 have high numbers, they are also already twinned, but Highway 7 west of Saskatoon to Alberta and Highway 16 east of Saskatoon to Yorkton have no larger volumes than Highway 39 and Highway 6 south between North Portal and Regina.
Young cited 2011 traffic counts, noting that daily traffic on Highway 39 east of Estevan currently exceeds 6,900 vehicles per day and the lowest count in this entire stretch of highway (near Corrinne corner en route to Regina) is still more than 3,600 vehicles.
And those numbers are lower than average, said Young, because they were recorded on June 13 of last year when southeastern Saskatchewan was coping with a flood that had hampered and even closed sections of those highways due to washouts, which meant a lot of the traffic, especially commercial truckers were being diverted to other routes, so the numbers recorded were artificially low.
Young noted that while No. 7 traffic west immediately out of Saskatoon was recorded at 9,400 vehicles, the other Highway 7 sectors such as those between Rosetown and Kindersley recorded traffic counts of just under 2,600 vehicles a day and the same was true of Saskatoon east to Yorkton with the area immediately east of Saskatoon showing 6,400 vehicles, but between Colonsay, Lanigan, Wynyard and Yorkton, the traffic counts were between 3,000 and 3,500.
“So other than the volumes immediately around Saskatoon, we have the higher traffic volumes on Highway 39 and 6,” said Young.