Angry drivers lined Highway 11 for miles to either side of the construction work near Chamberlain over the weekend. Some motorists gave up and, when opportunity struck, used the ditch and any other means to make an escape, while others had no choice but to sit in the lineup and wait for over an hour before things started moving again.
Minister of Highways Lori Carr came out the next day and called the situation 'unacceptable', as livid people took to social media to vent after missing weddings, funerals and other moments.
"There's some repaving work going on right at the town of Chamberlain, that's the point where Highway 11 goes from four lanes down to two. In order to complete the paving work, there's flag people in attendance and we have to stop traffic in one direction for a period of time to let traffic from the other direction through," said Highways spokesman Doug Wakabayashi.
"Over the course of the weekend, there was traffic volumes that neither the contractor nor Ministry staff were anticipating, there wasn't enough traffic getting through in time to clear the queues and it started to back up. The contractor didn't adjust their traffic accommodation quickly enough."
"We've met with the contractor, and put in place some plans that we anticipate will prevent something like that from happening again. That includes that, if traffic does start to back up and delay times are starting to get too long, the contractor will cease operations and just pull to the side for awhile to let traffic through. The nature of the work is such that there's no way to do it without causing delays, but certainly we'd want to keep them to 20 to 30 minutes or less," he added.
While there were grid roads in the area, Wakabayashi noted that there weren't many that could handle the highway volume of detouring traffic, as well as the truck weights.
Among the resolutions they are looking at is better signage, as the queues got so long that drivers couldn't even see the signs denoting what was happening. Adding wait times to the Highway Hotline is another item of discussion.
With the Labour Day long weekend approaching, Wakabayashi confirmed that said contractor is shutting down operations for the duration. However, those heading up to the football game in Regina will have to keep a heads up for construction on 39 and 33 near the city. Reduced speed limits will most likely be in effect in work zones, even though crews may not be present.