Almost two years after the city, province and Ottawa agreed to spend $20.4 million to improve Winnipeg's bike-and-pedestrian pathways, a majority of the 36 projects planned for 2010 are finally underway.
The City of Winnipeg has finished three of the active-transportation projects, is in the midst of completing 19 others and has yet to start work on 13 more. All of the projects should be completed in October, city officials contend.
"We're feeling pretty good about it," active-transportation co-ordinator Kevin Nixon said.
The construction industry has been able to handle the amount of work the city has been throwing at it, he said. Costs remain within budget, he added. The upgrade involves eight times more construction on the bike-and-pedestrian infrastructure than the city conducts during a normal year, when infrastructure-stimulus funds are not available. The cash will run out if the projects aren't done before April, but work is impossible once the snow falls, the city said.
Of the 13 projects that have yet to go ahead, tenders have already been awarded for six. The city is in the midst of advertising three other tenders and still needs to advertise four more.
Only one project is not going ahead: the pedestrian bridge over Omand's Creek in Omand Park, which was cancelled due to community opposition. All three levels of government must figure out a way to divert the $1.2 million devoted to the bridge to another project, which may not be possible given the tight deadline.
While some of the upgrades involve dedicated paths for cyclists and pedestrians, most of the projects involve street work. Grosvenor Avenue in River Heights, for example, is being converted into a route for both bikes and vehicles by bumping out curbs at several intersections.
The bump-outs are intended to serve as traffic-calming measures, but vehicles will still be allowed to use the street.
Many residents only became aware of the work after construction started, despite a series of mailouts sent out early this year, River Heights-Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow said.
"There was an enormous amount of attempts at public consultation by our office and the city, but I don't think people were engaged prior to it happening," he said.
The city also put up information displays in malls and at some public events. But due to the tight construction deadlines, much of the consultation was conducted in the winter, when people aren't thinking about construction, Nixon said.