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Dedicated stadium line at least two years away

Bus corridor waits on plan for Southwest Transitway

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Investors Group Field gets its second transit test on Saturday for the Taylor Swift concert.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Investors Group Field gets its second transit test on Saturday for the Taylor Swift concert. Photo Store

Even if the stars align in favour of a new transit corridor on the University of Manitoba campus, it will take at least two years to build a dedicated bus corridor from Pembina Highway to Investors Group Field.

A transit corridor across the vacant former Southwood Golf Course lands cannot be started until the detailed design for the entire second phase of the Southwest Transitway is completed, Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop confirmed Wednesday.

That means work on the southernmost stretch of that corridor could not begin until 2014 and could only be completed in time for the 2015 Canadian Football League season.

"There's a lot of work that needs to be done," Wardrop said Wednesday about a transit corridor through the Southwood lands, which are owned by the University of Manitoba and are slated for redevelopment.

Earlier this year, a Winnipeg Transit-commissioned Southwest Transitway alignment study pegged the price of a 1.05-kilometre Southwood link at $18 million if it runs from the CN Letellier line to a new stadium station alongside Markham Road.

Three other U of M busway alignment options considered by the study were less desirable because they would be longer, more expensive and would require major property expropriations.

The vacant Southwood land presents both the city and the U of M with a rare chance to essentially build a section of busway wherever they like.

"It's an incredible opportunity to run something through the Southwood land," said St. Boniface Coun. Dan Vandal, who has asked Winnipeg Transit to issue a report about the construction of the new stadium station near Investors Group Field.

"When the decision was made to build the stadium there, you need the central station to get buses in and out of there quickly," Vandal said.

The construction of a bus corridor through Southwood is considered a long-term solution toward easing traffic congestion on the U of M campus, as buses could be separated from motor-vehicle traffic on University Crescent and Chancellor Matheson Road.

The U of M has already expressed a preference for a Southwood bus corridor that would follow the Markham Road alignment.

This fall, the university will choose a winner from a competition to design the redevelopment of the Southwood land, which is expected to contain a mix of medium- and high-density housing as well as some form of commercial development.

The transit corridor was embedded into the design competition, said John Danakas, the U of M's marketing and communications director.

What's not clear is whether construction of a transit corridor could begin before the entire parcel of land is completely planned.

City council would also have to amend its construction plans for 2014 to shoehorn a U of M transit spur line into next year's capital budget. The report requested by Vandal should provide a rough idea of what it will cost to build both this line and Stadium Station.

Wardrop said that station would likely be built northeast of Investors Group Field and would allow buses to continue on to other portions of the U of M campus.

The completion of the entire second leg of the Southwest Transitway, meanwhile, is in limbo as a result of a long-running transit-funding dispute between Mayor Sam Katz and the Selinger government.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 20, 2013 B3

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