Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Diverting river part of Hwy. 75 plan

Raising highway to also keep route dry in times of 'modest flooding'

  • Print
The province says only a major flood such as 1997’s would close Highway 75 once long-term flood-protection is complete.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

The province says only a major flood such as 1997’s would close Highway 75 once long-term flood-protection is complete.

The Selinger government will outline its long-awaited plan to keep Highway 75 high and dry during "modest" flood years in today's throne speech.

The plan involves raising sections of the twinned highway and moving where the Morris River drains into the Red River, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said in an interview before the speech.

The long-term project will also be one of several the government will help pay for, using revenue from its increase to the provincial sales tax.

"We are definitely moving ahead on Highway 75 on the flood-protection side," Ashton said. "We're significantly along in terms of the technical work."

Ashton said the need to improve the highway, which connects the province to Interstate 29 in North Dakota at Emerson, comes as the Centreport Canada inland port northwest of the airport nears completion.

Centreport's 8,093 hectares are designed to be a trade zone with the world, linking air, rail, and truck routes to move goods shipped by air from Latin America, Asia, and Europe into the United States and east and west in Canada.

For Centreport to prosper, Highway 75 needs to stay open -- only a major flood on par with 1997's would close it down, as flooding on that scale would also close I-29.

"Even during modest flooding there has been extended closures at Morris," Ashton said. "It's always been part of the vision to move to interstate standards. What it's going to do is significantly reduce the number of days it's closed. In fairly modest flood years you won't see weeks of closures."

Ashton described a modest flood year as 2011.

The Manitoba Trucking Association has estimated it costs the trucking industry an additional $1.5 million for every week Highway 75 is closed because of a longer detour -- which results in price increases for shippers and consumers.

Ashton also said work to raise the highway will not be cheap, but, "We've got the resources to back it up with the one cent on the dollar sales tax increase."

Engineering and technical work on the project is ongoing.

When the government sprung the tax increase in last April's budget, raising it one point to eight per cent, Premier Greg Selinger said proceeds from the tax hike would go into the new Manitoba Building and Renewal Fund to spend on critical infrastructure, including anything from an expansion to a hospital, university or personal-care home to a repaved highway or massive new flood protection for Lake Manitoba.

The tax increase is timed to a limit of 10 years that allows the province to also tap dollar-for-dollar into the new federal Building Canada Fund program.

Manitoba's share of the previous version of the Building Canada Fund was about $500 million and was used for projects including finishing the Red River Floodway expansion and the Waverley West arterial road. The most recent project is the expansion of the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.

Today's throne speech will also focus on how the NDP will meet its commitment to create 75,000 jobs by 2020 through new education and job-training measures.

Opposition Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister has described that target as meaningless.

"It's fine to make great pronouncements about job creation, but what they are proposing to do is create jobs by taking the job-creating ability away from the consumers in our province," he said last week. "The No. 1 thing that will allow us to grow our economy is a higher discretionary income. What the government is doing is taking tools away from them by jacking up taxes."

Ashton also said a "flood-proofed" Highway 75 will allow the speed limit to be extended to 110 km/h on most sections, except where it passes through Morris. "Once we go to interstate standards it does also allow for an increase in the speed limit," he said.

While some have suggested the highway be built around the west of Morris, Ashton said that's not feasible. Instead, the plan involves building a channel to divert the Morris River around Morris into the Red River farther north of town. Such a diversion would eliminate the almost yearly occurrence of the swollen Morris River flowing over the Morris Bridge, which forces officials to close the highway.

"You pretty well have to treat the hydraulic end of it because there is really nowhere to bypass. It's hugely problematic. There really isn't a road solution entirely. It's got to be a hydraulic solution. You also have to be very careful about aggravating flood situations in surrounding areas," Ashton said.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 12, 2013 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

O'Shea says the team is going to stick to the plan after first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Perfect Day- Paul Buteux walks  his dog Cassie Tuesday on the Sagimay Trail in Assiniboine Forest enjoying a almost perfect  fall day in Winnipeg- Standup photo – September 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local-(Standup photo)- A wood duck swims through the water with fall refections in Kildonan Park Thursday afternoon.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you miss Grandma Elm?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google