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'Unexpected' repairs to choke one of city's major routes





ONE of Winnipeg’s major arteries is about to be all but severed for more than a month, with transit users and motorists needing to take a huge detour.

The thousands of people who travel north on McPhillips Street, past McPhillips Station Casino, are about to add several kilometres to their commute each day, after unforeseen repairs were announced for the Canadian Pacific Rail bridge crossing between Higgins and Jarvis avenues.

In recent weeks, the regular two lanes in each direction have been knocked down to one lane each way, while roadwork was being done in the northbound lanes, creating long lineups during morning and afternoon rush hours.

The City of Winnipeg logged about 48,800 vehicles passing through the underpass daily in 2016, a number believed to now be in excess of 50,000.

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ONE of Winnipeg’s major arteries is about to be all but severed for more than a month, with transit users and motorists needing to take a huge detour.

The thousands of people who travel north on McPhillips Street, past McPhillips Station Casino, are about to add several kilometres to their commute each day, after unforeseen repairs were announced for the Canadian Pacific Rail bridge crossing between Higgins and Jarvis avenues.

In recent weeks, the regular two lanes in each direction have been knocked down to one lane each way, while roadwork was being done in the northbound lanes, creating long lineups during morning and afternoon rush hours.

The City of Winnipeg logged about 48,800 vehicles passing through the underpass daily in 2016, a number believed to now be in excess of 50,000.

The McPhillips underpass is being dug deeper so trucks no longer slam into the rail bridge above.

(MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

The McPhillips underpass is being dug deeper so trucks no longer slam into the rail bridge above.

Starting tonight at 6 p.m., the section of road will be constricted even more — with no northbound traffic allowed between Jarvis and Logan avenues for a period of four to six weeks, according to a letter sent to area residents and businesses by Dillon Consulting. Only a single, southbound lane will be left open.

"Motorists are encouraged to take the alternative routes: Route 90 to the west and Salter Street to the east. Please avoid Arlington Bridge," the letter reads. The century-old Arlington Street structure, which crosses the CP railyards, is being eyed for replacement, at a cost of roughly $330 million.

Friday’s move comes, in part, to the deeper-than-normal excavation work being done on the underpass, aimed at allowing transport trucks access without fear of slamming into the rail bridge.

Matthew Hildebrand, the city’s project engineer for the underpass project, said the excavations uncovered "buried elements of the bridge structure" and found them to be "in very poor condition requiring immediate repair."

"This was unexpected," Hildebrand said Thursday. "As soon as we uncovered that repairs were required, we worked in close coordination with CP... we’ve asked for that work to get done before September, because we know in September traffic volumes go up."

Winnipeg Water Services crew member wades through the result of a water main break on McPhillips Street on Monday.

(MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

Winnipeg Water Services crew member wades through the result of a water main break on McPhillips Street on Monday.

For the near future, instead of northbound buses travelling the three blocks on McPhillips Street between Logan and Selkirk avenues, several bus routes will now have to take a lengthy detour down Logan Avenue to north on Keewatin Street before going east on Selkirk Avenue to return to McPhillips.

"Delays to service are anticipated during this re-route," Winnipeg Transit said. (The routes impacted are: Nos. 30 Inkster Park Express, 33 Maples, 34 McPhillips Super Express, 35 Maples Super Express, 36 Northwest Super Express, as well as the 71 Arlington via Sinclair and 71 Arlington via McPhillips.)

When contacted for comment on the upcoming traffic jam, area Coun. Mike Pagtakhan said: "Oh, wow... That’s a bit disconcerting, but if repairs have to be made, they have to be made."

Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) said he would expect city staff would have already looked at the best way to tackle the issues. "It will be inconvenient, so we’ll ask people for their patience. At the end, it will be a smoother ride and better for truck traffic."

Hildebrand said while CP Rail crews are busy doing their repair work — and using the third lane that’s being closed for construction vehicles and materials — the city’s crews will continue to do work on McPhillips Street.

"The goal is still to finish this year," he said. "We’re working to see what other work can be brought forward... there’s work were proceeding with on either side of the underpass."

Andy Cummings, a CP Rail spokesman, said the good news is "the CP bridge over McPhillips Street is structurally sound... CP will conduct this work while the city has the road closed for already planned work."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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