Winnipeg's unofficial fifth season -- construction season -- is about to start.
On Tuesday, the city and provincial governments unveiled a list of more than 100 city streets and back lanes that will undergo reconstruction and rehabilitation projects this summer.
'When you do this type of reconstruction, which is what we're doing, we're starting off from scratch; it will have a lifespan of 30 to 40 years, which is extremely important'
A total of $48.9 million, shared by the city and province, is committed to local Winnipeg streets, with a portion of that money going to city sidewalks, bridges, curbs, walkways and bike paths. Another $35 million is slated to go to regional streets.
Engineers in the city's public works department identified the streets and alleys in need of renewal or repair, Mayor Sam Katz told reporters, adding the list of Winnipeg infrastructure needs is continually growing as the city starts to show its age.
"This won't address everything," Katz said at a news conference on Besant Street in Elmwood Tuesday. "As you can see, it's impossible to do everything at once. But the bottom line is, when you do this type of reconstruction, which is what we're doing, we're starting off from scratch; it will have a lifespan of 30 to 40 years, which is extremely important, possibly longer.
"If we continue to do that, then we'll eventually catch up."
The city is drawing money from the 2.95 per cent property tax increase it implemented for 2014. One per cent of that increased revenue was collected in a fund earmarked for street renewal.
Forty-four streets in all 15 wards around the city are scheduled to see some renovation or rehabilitation in the coming months (16 of those were recently added to the list for this year). Twelve back lanes will get a complete reconstruction, with the bulk of those coming in the River Heights and Daniel McIntyre areas. Pipeline Road, north of Templeton Avenue to Mollard Road, is slated to see gravel reconstruction.
Meanwhile, 75 streets around the city are expected to receive a thin layer of bituminous overlay (concrete asphalt or blacktop) this summer. Ten streets in the St. Norbert ward are on the list, followed by streets in Old Kildonan (eight) and St. Boniface and Transcona (seven) needing some work.
"This will touch virtually every neighbourhood in Winnipeg," said Kevin Chief, provincial minister responsible for relations with the city. "Not only is this historic in terms of investment, this is also historic in the fact of the amount of work that's going to happen in the spring. This (work) will significantly reduce the amount of years to get our streets fixed."
That seems to be the goal for Katz. He cited his administration's commitment over the last couple years to refurbishing Winnipeg's decaying infrastructure and continued to relay his belief issues such as deep potholes and crumbling concrete won't be fixed until new streets are laid down and a maintenance plan is put in place.
"The real solution to our pothole problem is building our new roads and having proper maintenance so that we have a maintenance situation as opposed to having potholes all the time," Katz said. "That's where we want to get to, but it will not happen overnight." Visit http://wfp.to/construction for the city's report that includes the full list of street renewals.