IT'S taken almost seven years, but by this spring, the inlet control structure of the Red River Floodway should be able to withstand whatever fury Mother Nature throws at it.
It's taken as long as it has because work to upgrade the St. Norbert facility -- the centrepiece of "Duff's Ditch"-- can only occur during the winter months.
"That's when there is no real requirement for it to be operated," Manitoba Floodway Authority spokesman Ronuk Modha said Thursday. "During the spring and summer it could be required to be reused, so as a result we have a short window of time."
Work at the inlet is part of the floodway-expansion project that began in 2005 to increase the floodway's capacity to handle a one-in-700-year flood. The inlet structure and the channel around the east side of Winnipeg was built in the mid-1960s, began under then-premier Duff Roblin.
To be finished in the spring, the remedial work on the inlet will replace its inner workings, including the mechanisms that lift its two enormous gates that when activated, send floodwater from the Red River into the floodway channel.
Modha said this winter, the trunnion anchors for the west gate are to be replaced. The anchors in the east gate were replaced last year. The anchors hold the gates in place within the structure.
Four hydraulic cylinders that lift the gates have also been replaced. The cylinders are approximately 26.5 metres and are designed to have a longer lifespan than the previous stainless-steel cylinders, which were installed more than 40 years ago.
The cylinders were made in France, shipped to Baltimore, Md., and moved by truck to Winnipeg.
Modha said for the work to be done, coffer dams have been built to hold back water so crews can work almost underneath the structure.
"We're also going to be doing some corrosion protection to the gates, essentially painting the gates, making sure they can move up and down," he said.
The control room on top of the structure will also be refurbished.