Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Louise Bridge to be replaced

Two-lane span will become four

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THE two-lane Louise Bridge is going to be replaced with a new four-lane span over the Red River, allowing city officials a chance to consider realigning the vital link between downtown and the east side of Winnipeg.The 2009 capital budget calls for the Louise Bridge, the city's second-oldest existing bridge, to be replaced in 2015 or 2016 with a new four-lane connection between Point Douglas and Elmwood.

Built in 1911, the two-lane bridge is believed to be too old to be rehabilitated. So city engineers are planning to completely replace the often-congested span, either on the site of the existing north-south Louise Bridge or parallel to the east-west CPR Keewatin tracks, which would create a more direct link between downtown and Transcona.

"This is badly needed. Traffic is backed up there constantly," said Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, city council's new infrastructure-renewal secretary. "The east side of the city is growing and we have to find a way to service the needs of the population."

As recently as a year ago, city engineers pegged the cost of replacing the Louise Bridge at anywhere from $20 million to $60 million.

But that number has been revised up to $100 million, as the city's public works department considers realigning Higgins Avenue, which currently curves to the north to the existing Louise Bridge, or even building the new bridge along with an east-west rapid-transit corridor that would connect downtown with Transcona.

"We've put a number in there for now. Once we get the actual design, we'll know a lot better," public works director Bill Larkin said Tuesday, after council's public works committee approved the 2009 capital budget and five-year capital spending forecast.

Planning for the new Louise Bridge will not begin in earnest until 2013, after repairs to the Disraeli Freeway are finished. Earlier this week, the city short-listed three private construction consortia to potentially tackle the $134- million Disraeli job, which could see reconstruction work begin in 2010.

The Disraeli work calls for a new bike-and-pedestrian bridge to connect Elmwood and Point Douglas halfway between the Disraeli Freeway and the current Louise Bridge site. But that does not preclude the possibility a new active-transportation corridor will be built into a new bridge, Larkin said.

If the new Louise Bridge is built in an east-west configuration, it could connect Higgins Avenue with the Nairn Avenue Overpass or even bypass the Nairn Overpass completely by hooking up with the south end of Kent Street in East Elmwood, Larkin said.

The only thing that is certain is that the existing two-lane span will be replaced by a four-lane bridge.

The oldest existing bridge in Winnipeg is the Redwood Bridge, built in 1908 and reconstructed in 2006.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 3, 2008 B1

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