A crucial first step for the City of Weyburn to take before the planned rebuild of First Avenue north is to replace the light standards at the Government Road / King Street intersection.

Jennifer Wilkinson, Director of Engineering for the City of Weyburn, said this involves taking down the existing light poles, pouring new foundations for the new poles, and moving the location of the light controller, then boring in all of the new conduits for the new light standards.

"One of the big reasons we have to replace them is all the underground infrastructure is kind of on its last legs, so we have to redo all the wiring because if they do fail, there's really no opportunity to repair them anymore."

She said they will also be upgrading those lights to the more energy-efficient LED, with galvanized steel poles, and camera sensors to improve traffic flow. Currently, the lights are based on timers.

"These ones will be able to sense the traffic flow and they can adjust to that based on how busy the intersection is at the time, so we are hoping that we can make traffic flow a little more efficiently than the current setup, and it won't be just a required stop," she explained. "Say it's the middle of the night, and semis are coming through on First Avenue, the lights will just stay green so that they won't have to stop."

Wilkinson said the City has done a traffic study at this location, which pointed out that there are obvious peaks during the time of day and in the months when school traffic impacts the intersection along Government Road. However, First Avenue might see more traffic during other parts of the day. 

"It will be able to sense what kind of traffic is backing up at a light so that they'll be able to adjust the timing of the light, so if you found that one spot is getting really backed up and there's no traffic flow through the other one that has a green light, then it would switch so that the side that has more traffic going, they'd flow to a green light and the other one would become red."

Wilkinson said the main reason the lights must be done first is that the project will involve cutting up the road to expose some gas lines and other underground infrastructure.

"So because we have to cut up the road for that, we want to make sure that we're doing that before we put down the new pavement."

She emphasized that this three-week project will be just the beginning of a couple of months of construction along First Avenue, which will mean drivers may want to use alternate routes.

"So it will be a four-way stop for that time period, as well as you are going to see single lane closures as they work through each of the four flight standards, so we are recommending people to just avoid this area," Wilkinson said.

"If you can plan your route a little differently for the next three weeks, it will just alleviate some of the traffic through there and make it a lot easier for the crews that are working there and a lot safer."

The paving work along First Avenue will also begin at this intersection, then toward the east end, with the goal of rebuilding to between Ninth Street and 13th Street. 

"We do have some utility work that needs to be done in that stretch before we can do it, so we're trying to do some of this pre-work so that when we come in and we rebuild it all, we're not going to wreck our new asphalt."

"For the efficiency of the project and for the safety of all of our workers, we highly encourage people just to avoid the area and to plan their routes a little differently over the next three weeks."

The temporary four-way stop ath this intersection is not the same as one of the many in downtown Weyburn.

"It's a multi-lane four-way. That's what makes a bigger difference," she noted. "So in the downtown core, a lot of those four-way stops are single lanes, so it's only one person you're watching at each spot. Because this is multi-lane with turning lanes, it becomes a lot more complicated on who reaches the four-way first."

Wilkinson said it will be easier for drivers to avoid the construction traffic in the area during this project.

Wilkinson added, "We understand First Avenue is in bad shape and we are fixing it this year, but I think essentially over starting from June 10th on, there will be some sort of construction on First Avenue going forward for the next couple of months. So I think people are just going to want to do some reroutes, all construction season."