Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pedestrians risk life and limb

Dodge traffic after pathway submerged

  • Print

High water and heavy construction have choked off key walkways through one of Winnipeg's busiest downtown routes, triggering a jaywalking jam many fear is a disaster waiting to happen.

On Monday afternoon, as the first waves of southbound rush-hour traffic started to flow south down Osborne Street from downtown, dozens of pedestrians and cyclists gingerly picked their way between oncoming cars to make it to Osborne Bridge's single open sidewalk.

"This is what passes for planning in this city," said Paul Hesse, who walks or bikes every day from his Osborne Village home to his downtown law office. "It's terrible. Something has to be done."

The problem: Since Monday morning, the east side of the Osborne Bridge sidewalk has been closed to accommodate the bridge's year-long rehabilitation.

The city expected pedestrians and cyclists crossing the bridge from Osborne Village to use a path underneath the bridge's north side to get to the legislature grounds or the Assiniboine Avenue bikeway.

But with that walkway deep under the swollen Assiniboine River and no temporary crossing from Mostyn Place to the legislature grounds, pedestrians walking downtown are forced to either walk north to Broadway -- or, as hundreds of people did on Monday, nip across three lanes of bustling Osborne Street traffic.

Until the underpass reopens, Hesse worries, a scheme that pushes dozens of people an hour across Osborne Street traffic risks tragedy. "People haven't been warned about this," he said, minutes after a construction worker in a bright orange vest helped escort an elderly woman through the traffic.

"Will people have to risk lives crossing illegally through Osborne's traffic?"

Monday was a holiday for city employees, who were not available to discuss the issue in-depth.

But in an email to Hesse on April 21, a city bridge engineer acknowledged the concern and said the city had "considered installing a temporary crossing at street level but determined that it is not safe to do so."

The letter also noted that once the Assiniboine River water level retreats, the city will raise the walking path so it isn't impacted by future flooding.

The bridge-level sidewalk will not re-open until October. The bridge project will also add a permanent pedestrian crosswalk between Assiniboine Avenue and Mostyn Place, the city said, but that will not be open until October 2012.

At the impromptu crossing on Monday, some pedestrians scooting between cars were taken aback by the city's decision.

"It's too dangerous (to put a temporary crossing)? Oh, that's good," said Kendall Hinds, an Osborne Village resident, on his way to toss a Frisbee on the legislature grounds.

"They really thought this one through -- this is the major access point into the village."

On the flip side, drivers seemed to understand that too, as they slowed down and stopped on Monday to let pedestrians and bikers cross. "It's a little inconvenient, but for the most part motorists have been really considerate," said bike commuter Bonnie Van Steelandt, waiting for an opening in traffic to pedal across to the west side of Osborne Street.

"But it would be nice to have a crosswalk here. I don't know the right answer -- I just hope it doesn't last long."

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 26, 2011 B1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Keri Latimer looks for beauty in the dark and the spaces between the notes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Deer in Canola field near Elma, Manitoba. 060706.
  • Perfect Day- Paul Buteux walks  his dog Cassie Tuesday on the Sagimay Trail in Assiniboine Forest enjoying a almost perfect  fall day in Winnipeg- Standup photo – September 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google