B.C. VS Saskatchewan: Who has the higher roadbuilding costs?
If you answered B.C. you were probably thinking logically. After all, Saskatchewan has no mountain terrain, no need for avalanche snow shed protection and reinforcement, no raging rivers to build bridges across, no steep rock faces to reinforce or pipelines to cross. We thought it might be informative to do a cost comparison to the latest major infrastructure project undertaken in B.C., which was the Coquihalla Highway. This roadway now links Kelowna in the B.C. interior to the west coast highway at Vancouver. This project required over 324 kilometers of 4 lanes of paved highway over a the longest and steepest roadway in Canada. For the record, the following components were required in order to complete the Coquihalla Highway:
COQUIHALLA (Completed in 1990)
1 18 highway interchanges
2 38 bridge and/or overpass structures
3 19 vehicular underpasses
4 8 avalanche dams
5 19 containment basins
6 3 diversion trenches
7 3 sets of avalanche benches
8 1 massive snowshed (named the Great Bear Snowshed)
9 Over 320 kilometers of asphalt roadway in total
TOTAL COST: $848 MILLION. (Adjusted for today’s inflation: $1.63 Billion)
Let us now turn our attention to the New Regina Bypass and the corresponding details. The comparison is interesting if not illuminating.
NEW REGINA BYPASS (not yet complete at May, 2019))
1 12 overpasses
2 40 Kilometers of four lane asphalt
3 55 kilometers of new service road
4 5 kilometers of twinning at Highway # 6
5 20 kilometers of resurfacing 4 existing lanes of highway
6 Over 120 kilometers of asphalt roadway in total
TOTAL COST (EST) UPON COMPLETION: $1.88 BILLION
The reader will note that the total of 120 kilometers of roadway either being constructed or resurfaced is only about 1/3 that of the famous Coquihalla. The estimated costs for the new Regina Bypass are significantly higher. Both arteries were built in response to the demands of increased commercial and industrial traffic between their end points, so we are not arguing the need for the infrastructure, but. there appears to be a problem with the math. Why should a project like the Regina Bypass cost more than a roadway in a far more difficult to service area, one that is more technically challenging and covers almost three times the distance?
We think these numbers speak for themselves and cry out for a proper answer to the question:
WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?
The Regina bypass is built on flat land with no rock blasting, mountains to move and valleys to fill in. This is a substantially easier project to build but it will cost more than the Coquihalla’s 3 phases?
Are the Saskatchewan taxpayers getting good value for their dollar? Looking at the comparison to the 3 phases of the 324 kilometers of the Coquihalla highway and all the rest of the infrastructure that had to be built it is pretty easy to see that we are really paying way too much for our little flatland project!