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Thursday, 04 May 2017 03:44

Swift Current lighting project will improve highway safety

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A project to install overhead lighting along the Trans-Canada Highway corridor through Swift Current will increase safety for road users and pedestrians.


The installation of the overhead lights started April 24 and the project will take about three months  to complete.
Mitch Minken, the City of Swift Current’s general manager of infrastructure and operations, spoke to the media about the project after a regular council meeting, April 24. The project is a result of a partnership between the City of Swift Current and the provincial government’s Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.
“I think this is the first joint project that was done with the Ministry of Highways,” Minken said. “In the larger cities, Saskatoon and Regina, their main freeways are well lit. So this is kind of catching up to some of that with the highway, particularly right in the middle of the city and bisecting our city.”
The project already started last fall with design work and the purchase of materials. The preparatory phase is completed and the installation of the lights can now take place.
“So right now starting to install the pilings for the lights and we’ll continue on installing the lights as we go,” he said. “We’ll be out on the highway doing work. There will be lane restrictions and speed restrictions through the work zones. We ask everyone to please keep everyone safe, our workers in particular and obey all the speed restrictions and all the signs.”
A total of 185 lights will be installed on the outside edge of the driving lanes. The cost of the project is about $1.2 million, of which around $600,000 will be used for materials and the remaining $400,000 will pay for labour and contract work. The provincial government is responsible for about 65 per cent of the project and the City for the remaining 35 per cent.
“They’re starting on the east end of the city, so at the Memorial Drive intersection, and we’re going to work our way west and then turn around and work our way back east again,” Minken said. “So over the next while it will be throughout the city all the way to 11th (Avenue) N.W. and then we’re also doing the intersection around the Esso service station to the west of town in the R.M. We’re also helping the ministry with that intersection as well.”
The light posts will be about 60 metres apart and 15 metres high, but the lights along the ramps will be slightly shorter. It will be energy-efficient, light-emitting diode (LED) lights that require little maintenance.
“So similar to what we’ve been placing in our new subdivisions and are starting to appear in the downtown core now,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to installing them and then not having to worry about them for a long time.”
He is confident the lighting project will address concerns about safety for road users and pedestrians who cross the highway at night.
“The anticipation is it will be well lit,” he said. “People shouldn’t be crossing, but if there’s obstructions the drivers will have a chance to see, whether it’s a person or whatever trying to cross the highway.”
The City of Swift Current is also continuing with a project in the downtown area to transfer overhead electrical power lines to underground installation. This year’s budget includes an amount of $550,000 to get this work done.
“Over the next few years, we’re taking the overhead power lines in the lanes in the main downtown business core and burying them,” he said. “We’re carrying on this year with two more blocks. We’re doing the 100 and the zero block between Central Avenue and 1st Avenue N.E. So we started from where we left off at the corner of Chaplin and in-between Central and 1st N.E.”
That work also started on April 24, when a section of Chaplin Street East from 1st Avenue N.E. to Central Avenue North was closed for traffic for a period of about two weeks.
“We’ll get through the first block and then we’ll have the same closure of Cheadle Street probably for a week or 10 days,” he said. “Then we’ll cross Cheadle Street and we’ll end up at the RCMP station for this year. So it’s going to be probably a good two months of activity there. The lanes will be closed for the duration. One lane for the first section and then the next lane for the next section. So I ask people to drive around. I know the lanes are much used in our city because of the one-ways. They appear to be as busy as the street sometimes. So they won’t be available for use for a while.”
There might be a few electrical outages during the transfer of the electrical lines, but it will be minimal and very local. Those outages will be scheduled to happen outside regular business hours.
“We certainly will be accommodating those businesses,” he said. “When we have to do those, we’ll accommodate them and do them off hours as much as we can.”
Council to consider bylaw to establish the mill rate
Councillors approved various motions  at the April 24 meeting to give notice of motion to the public of council’s intention to consider a bylaw to establish the mill rate, the mill rate factors and a special levy to fund the long-term care facility, and to exempt certain properties from the 2017 assessment.
According to City General Manager of Corporate Services Kathy Hopfner, the Saskatchewan government made changes to the percentage of value for taxable assessment. As a result the taxable  portion of residential, multi-residential and seasonal residential will increase from 70 to 80 per cent and non-arable land from 40 to 45 per cent. The provincial government also made a downward adjustment to the education property tax mill rates for 2017.
“The province made a downward adjustment to their uniform mill rate for a couple of reasons,” she said.
“One, because the per cent of value increased and because 2017 is a re-evaluation year. So on average everyone's assessment on their property increased between 20 and 27 per cent, some more, some less. So because of the increase in assessment and the increase in the taxable assessment — there'll be a downward push on the uniform mill rate, but even after that, taxpayers will see an average of a 9.8 per cent increase on their education tax bill.”
The notice of motion will be advertised for three weeks and thereafter the bylaw will be considered at a future council meeting.
“We’ll bring a bylaw back sometime in May with the mill rates, the uniform mill rate, the special levy, and the education mill rates,” she said. “We hope to have the tax notices out by the end of May, due the end of June.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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