The city and province have reached a deal to complete the Southwest Transitway by 2019 as part of a $600-million plan that also includes other Fort Garry infrastructure improvements.
Premier Greg Selinger and Mayor Sam Katz say each level of government has agreed to spend up to $225 million toward the extension of Winnipeg's first dedicated bus corridor from Jubilee Avenue to the University of Manitoba's Fort Garry campus.
Ottawa will be asked to fund the remaining $150 million for the project, which would also include widening of the Pembina Highway underpass at Jubilee Avenue, a new land drain east of the intersection and new bike-and-pedestrian access through the area.
This funding deal has been held up for three years due to a dispute between Selinger and Katz over what each level of government would be expected to pay.
Selinger said today all that's important is a denouement, noting "everyone likes drama."
The first phase of the Southwest Transitway opened in 2012 at a cost of $138 million. It runs 3.6 kilometres from Queen Elizabeth Way near The Forks to Jubilee Avenue near Pembina Highway.
The seven-kilometre second phase is slated to continue west over Pembina Highway and along Parker Avenue to a Manitoba Hydro corridor in Fort Garry, then jog south back to Pembina Highway and follow the CN Letellier line to the vicinity of the University of Manitoba's Fort Garry campus.
Both Winnipeg Transit and the university are leaning toward completing the busway by entering along Markham Road through the soon-to-be-redeveloped Southwood land.
A new bus station and staging ground for buses may be built near Investors Group Field, Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop said.
The university also hopes to build a commercial hub near the football stadium.
The city plans to place a funding application for the project before Ottawa by Dec. 1, Katz said. The money would come from the P3 Canada Fund, but the transitway would be publicly owned and operated.
The city expects to hear back from Ottawa by June. Construction could begin in 2016, Wardrop said.
At Pembina and Jubilee alone, that work would entail the realignment of a rail bridge, the addition of a northbound lane on Pembina Highway, the construction of busway bridge over the intersection and the addition of a bike and pedestrian lane below it.
Design work for the project is underway and is already funded.
St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding said if all three levels of government have $600 million to spend in infrastructure, there are other projects that should take priority.
Fielding, who is considering a mayoral run in 2014, said he would prefer to see Chief Peguis Trail extended west from Main Street to McPhillips Street, Kenaston Boulevard widened or William Clement Parkway extended south to Wilkes Avenue, all of which could be accomplished for less than $600 million.
"People have talked about completing the ring road in Winnipeg for 35 years and for whatever reason, we haven’t done it," Fielding said in an interview. "If you are going to invest this kind of money, you should invest in existing road systems all over the City of Winnipeg, that all citizens could benefit from."
Fielding also said $600 million could fix up 600 local streets. He called the transitway a good project that nonetheless should not be a priority.