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If increased federal funding to cities doesnt materialize, cash-strapped Saskatoon is planning to build a new bridge as a P3. City council is monitoring Edmontons ring road project with a view to copying the model. The toll ring road is to be financed, built and maintained by a private consortium.

Saskatoons manager of municipal engineering Murray Totland is skeptical about the for-profit scheme. How well will the private groups build, maintain and rehabilitate them? he asks. Will they do minimal maintenance, minimal service to maximize return? We dont know.

What we do know is the history of P3s elsewhere. PEIs Confederation Bridge cost $45 million more because it was financed privately. In Ontario, the province is suing the owners of highway 407 for unilaterally raising tolls.

The new bridge is part of the $80-million Circle Drive project, which also involves roadworks and an interchange.