Editorial: Lower speed zone a good idea

Saskatoon motorists heading to the lakes on Highway 11 over the Victoria Day long weekend probably had to hit the brakes and reduce their speed just a little bit north of Warman.
Surprise! The provincial Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure instituted a 90 kilometer per hour speed limit in the vicinity of the Highway 11 junction with Highway 305, where a new overpass is being built.
According to a spokesperson with the Highways Ministry, the reduced speed zone is due to the overpass construction, and is expected to remain in effect until the project is completed in the fall of 2019.
The construction site itself is actually to the east of the junction, and traffic flow on Highway 11 is not obstructed in any way by the work being done. But slowing traffic down in the area not only makes it safer for trucks and other heavy equipment entering and leaving the site, it also increases safety for regular traffic entering and exiting Highway 305. This is particularly true for vehicles turning north onto Highway 11 from Highway 305, where they are forced to accelerate very quickly in the passing lane to highway speed from the centre median.
The Osler town council has been asking the province to add acceleration and deceleration lanes heading north on Highway 11 from Highway 305 for months. (There are already acceleration and deceleration lanes on Highway 11 in the opposite direction.) The Highways Ministry apparently seems to be reluctant to add those additional lanes, probably because it will cost money, and also because the new overpass will make the intersection itself obsolete in two years time. But in the meantime, the amount of traffic using that intersection will increase. Likewise, the probability of a serious, or even fatal, collision at that intersection also increases.
So putting in a lower speed limit on that section of Highway 11 is a good compromise, at least in the short term. It forces traffic to slow down and encourages drivers to pay greater attention to potential hazards, such as merging vehicles entering the highway.
As the lower speed limit on Highway 12 at Martensville (where another much-needed overpass is also under construction) has shown, the reduction in speed has translated into fewer collisions. The Martensville Fire Department has confirmed the lower speed zone has had a positive effect.
It will be nice once the overpasses are completed. In the meantime, use caution when driving through those areas.