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Wednesday, Jul 22, 2020

Safety improvements at the site of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy will help prevent future accidents

Humboldt Highway

On April 6, 2018, the Humboldt Broncos hockey team was traveling to Nipawin, Saskatchewan to play in a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League game. During the journey, a westbound semi-trailer collided with the team’s northbound bus at the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335, 30 kilometres south of Nipawin. Sixteen of the 29 people on the bus were killed and 13 people were seriously injured.

Following the Humboldt Broncos tragedy, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure completed an intersection safety review to identify potential improvements. The review recommended a number of safety improvements. Subsequent to this review, the Ministry engaged Associated Engineering to provide design and construction services for implementing recommendations. 

The safety improvements included upgrading 1.4 kilometres of Highway 35 and 1 kilometre of Highway 335 to incorporate wider shoulders and a new paved surface. Rumble strips were installed on Highway 335 in advance of the stop signs to alert drivers of the intersection.

Pavement markings were also improved and overhead power lines were realigned for safety. Other safety improvements included realigning the access to the grain terminal at Highway 335 and removing several approaches close to the intersection. In addition, as part of the project, we designed access and parking for a roadside memorial for lost Broncos team members. 

The Ministry wished to have the safety improvements constructed before the 2019 winter. Construction Administration Project Manager, Marshal Verhelst, says, “This was a tight timeline for our project team, given that the detailed design started May 2019.”

Associated Engineering fast-tracked the detailed design and completed tasks concurrently to meet the tight timeline. Design reviews were conducted at the same time as tender packages for the two contracts were being assembled. Design Project Manager, Shawn Fehr, explains, “Our knowledge of the Ministry’s standards and policies helped to reduce review times and enabled us to tender the two contracts for the project in August 2019.” 

Construction began in September 2019 on both contracts. Construction of the highway improvements, access road, and parking lot were substantially completed in early November 2019, meeting the Ministry’s schedule. The remaining items will be completed by June 2020.

Our key personnel involved on this project include Shawn Fehr, Marshal Verhelst, Robin Christopher, and Jeff Horan.