News / Winnipeg

Reopening Portage and Main likely still years away: staff

The city's director of public works says there's two years of planning required before work could begin to reopen the historic intersection to pedestrians

Don't count on being able to cross Portage and Main aboveground for at least another two years.

David Lipnowski/For Metro

Don't count on being able to cross Portage and Main aboveground for at least another two years.

Winnipeggers will have to wait at least another two years before Portage and Main reopens. 

Lester Deane, the city's director of public works, said planning behind the teardown of the barricades could take that long .

A recently commissioned traffic study that examines the impact of reintroducing those on foot to the historic intersection is only the start, he said. There's much more work that needs to be done.

“There are nuances now," he told reporters on Tuesday. "We know we can do it. Now it’s a question of painting the big picture and then getting the costs associated with delivering that big picture.”

Deane says his best educated guess is that planning to reopen the intersection would take two years.

That’s quite the departure from Mayor Brian Bowman’s hope to remove the barricades in time for the city to play host to the 2017 Canada Summer Games, which kick-off next July.

Deane said there's no cash in next year's capital budget to reopen the intersection and even if the city and property owners reached an agreement on a "big picture" plan for the corners, the actual date of any ribbon cutting is still very much up in the air. 

The traffic study in question is currently in the hands of senior administrators who are working with the property owners to decide on next steps and drum up support for removing the barriers.

“It’s no real surprise," Deane said. "We know that if we introduce pedestrian phases, it’s going to have an impact on traffic and there’ll be a delay to some of the transit service and delay to some of the travel times of vehicles being able to go through the intersection."  

He says southeast corner, where the Bank of Montreal is located, will be the most difficult to reopen to pedestrians.

Not only is it the tightest corner, but the bank’s property abuts right against the city’s infrastructure. 

“I believe we’d need some additional property there to introduce everything properly," Deane said, explaining the stairwell to the underground concourse is located very close to the roadway. 

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