Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Highway 75 closes today

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Rising flood waters require closing the entire stretch of Highway 75 from Winnipeg to Highway 14, the province announced today.

An alternate route detour is in effect using Highways 3 to Winkler, then east on Highway 14, before hooking up with Highway 75 south. All closures are signed and marked and detour signs are in place to direct traffic.

However, stretches open to local traffic are Winnipeg to Provincial Road 205, and Morris to Highway 14.

The closure of much of Highway 75 starting will add $1.5 million a week to the cost of trucking goods back and forth between Canada and the United States, the Manitoba Trucking Association estimates.

Bob Dolyniuk, an association spokesman, said truckers hauling goods from Winnipeg to the U.S. border face a costly detour of about 100 kilometres.

"You’re looking at a round-trip increased cost, just between Winnipeg and the border, in the neighbourhood of $400 per trip," he said Monday.

Provincial flood forecaster Alf Warkentin said the major route could be flooded for two-and-a-half weeks.

That could put the cost to the trucking industry at more than $3.5 million -- something that Dolyniuk said it cannot -- and will not -- absorb.

"We’ve already had indications from some of the larger responsible shippers that they recognize there’s an increased cost (because of the detour) and they recognize that trucking companies will have to be paid extra for these costs," he said.

Truckers can’t use Highway 59 as an alternative because of spring weight restrictions on that road between St. Malo and the U.S. border.

In 2006, flooding caused Highway 75 to be closed for 18 days -- from April 10-28.

Trucking firms -- and their clients -- aren’t the only ones getting hurt by the road closure.

The border town of Emerson -- now the fourth-busiest border crossing in the country -- is feeling the pinch as truckers who can do so cross the border in Alberta or Saskatchewan instead.

"I know of some (local) staff that have been working for custom brokers that have been basically laid off over the last week or so... " Emerson Mayor Wayne Arseny said.

Businesses in Morris will also be affected, as traffic that normally goes right through town detours to the west of it.

Mayor Dale Hoffman said Monday that restaurants, service stations, convenience stores and other retailers will be impacted.

Neil Gobelle, a provincial highways spokesman, said local traffic will still be permitted on Highway 75 as far south as Provincial Road 205.

Meanwhile, Arseny said the challenge for the province will be to get Highway 75 "out of the water" when the Red rises in the future.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 7, 2009 A4

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