Understanding the impact of Saskatoons new bridges will take time: city

Understanding the impact of Saskatoon\s new bridges will take time: city
Understanding the impact of Saskatoons new bridges will take time: city
Commuters checking their smart phones Wednesday would be forgiven for wondering whether they could drive over Saskatoon's two new bridges.

According to Google, Bing and other references, they'd have to swim across the South Saskatchewan to cross at those sites. Online maps showed neither the Traffic Bridge nor the Chief Mistawasis Bridge. To get from River Landing to Nutana Collegiate on either end of the Traffic Bridge, for example, users were advised to travel the long way across the Broadway Bridge.

During Wednesday morning rush hour, the Traffic Bridge was nearly empty while dozens of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers passed over the Broadway Bridge every minute.

The bridge, connecting downtown and the citys south side, was slated to allow traffic on Wednesday afternoon – but on Tuesday evening, vehicles were driving across.

Saskatchewan Tech Association President Aaron Genest said the reason for the traffic patterns are unclear. But he said it's not surprising that the tech companies have yet to update their maps.

The Traffic Bridge and Chief Mistawasis Bridge are part of a $238 million project, which also includes the extension of McOrmond Drive and Central Avenue.

"There are hundreds of thousands of changes in Canada alone to roads in terms of openings and closures and bridges that fall down and bridges that are built," Genest said.

The Chief Mistawasis Bridge, connecting Saskatoons east side with the north industrial area, also opened Tuesday.

Genest said users will likely submit suggestions to the companies. The companies will then check local government databases and update the maps. They also use third party data collection companies that supply them with new mapping information.

This years wet harvest in Saskatchewan is resulting in a record-high demand for propane, according to suppliers.

Amanda Lam of Microsoft's media relations department said in an email that they encourage users to send them updates. Microsoft owns search engine Bing.

“Going back home (Tuesday) it only took me 12 minutes going across the bridge,” he said, as compared to his former commute which he said took at least 20 minutes on the best day, and significantly longer if there was any sort of traffic tie-up on Circle Drive.

"We're continually adding data, working closely with our map data providers to bring a great mapping experience to our users. Please send us feedback about missing data using the feedback tool in the product," Lam said.

A City of Saskatoon official said they didn't want to let mapping companies know about the bridges until they were operational and will do so now.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

Getting ready for the maiden flight of CKOM Traffic in a Cesna 172! I'll be your eye in the sky thanks to Mitchinson Flight Center! #yxe pic.twitter.com/YibucO7aWD

Saskatoons new crossings appeared to make the morning commute easier for drivers Wednesday, though the city needs time to measure the effect of the Chief Mistawasis Bridge and new Traffic Bridge.

Bob Lakatos told 650 CKOM that the Chief Mistawasis Bridge had effectively halved his commute from his home in Evergreen to his work near the Costco on Marquis Drive.

Viewing traffic from a Cessna 172 plane Wednesday, 650 CKOM traffic reporter Jay Thomas noticed a difference in the citys north end.

I think there was a huge impact with our new Chief Mistawasis Bridge open, as well as Central Avenue and McOrmond Drive, Thomas said.

Opening ceremonies were held Tuesday for the Chief Mistawasis Bridge and the Traffic Bridge, with both bridges then opened to regular traffic by 7 p.m. that night.

The city anticipates lower traffic volumes on Attridge Drive and College Drive, along with the University, Broadway, and Sid Buckwold bridges

“It gives more time back to people to spend with their families and it creates more opportunities for investment,” Mayor Charlie Clark said.

We will need time to quantify the shift in traffic patterns in the city as a result of the opening of the two new bridges, said a statement from Jay Magus, the citys transportation and engineering manager.

At minimum, crews will assess the following intersections next spring, once traffic counting equipment are functioning and traffic patterns settle:

Anecdotally we have heard that traffic has shifted from Attridge, but again we will have no numbers until next summer, Magus said.

Roughly 20,000 drivers are expected to use the Chief Mistawasis Bridge per day in the opening year, according to Dan Willems, the citys acting general manager of corporate performance.

Thats expected to grow up to 60,000 vehicles a day when the city reaches half a million people, Willems told Global News.

The new Traffic Bridge is expected to see average traffic volumes approaching 11,000 vehicles per day with the capacity to handle more than 20,000 vehicles per day.

The Traffic Bridge also allows the Saskatoon Fire Department to service north Nutana from its Idylwyld Drive location.

We can actually be more efficient because previously we werent going across the bridge, said assistant chief Wayne Rodger.