Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rainy spring delays expressway

Overpass substructure needs 'compress' time

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WORK on a new overpass for the CentrePort highway is two months behind schedule due to soggy spring weather.

Construction of an overpass at the Perimeter Highway north of Saskatchewan Avenue was initially expected to be complete by the end of August. Crews are working to build up the highway by 10 metres to create an interchange so it can cross CentrePort Canada Way, a 10-kilometre expressway that will extend from the Perimeter to Route 90.

Don McRitchie, team leader of major initiatives for Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, said spring rains delayed the work, as the new material for the overpass was too wet to install.

McRitchie said crews have to stack heavy material to build up the roadway, and it needs time to sit and "compress" into the soft, clay soil underneath to ensure it doesn't shift. He said the new roadway material had to dry out before work continued on the new structure.

Officials hope this segment of CentrePort Canada Way will be complete by Nov. 15.

"If the weather turns on us, and if the schedule slips another two weeks, we're into next year. But that shouldn't have an effect on the overall project," he said.

The $212-million CentrePort Canada Way expressway is slated to open in fall 2013. When the roadway opens, it is expected there will be about 4,000 vehicles a day travelling on and off the expressway at the Perimeter Highway and another 15,000 vehicles at Route 90.

While that's much lower than heavily travelled routes within Winnipeg, including parts of roadways such as Kenaston Boulevard and Portage Avenue, which handle upwards of 50,000 vehicles daily, McRitchie said the expressway will provide a faster route for truck and commuter traffic and will alleviate existing traffic congestion on Inkster Boulevard. CentrePort Canada Way will have two signalled intersections along the route and a potential travel speed of 100 km/h.

Officials conducted a traffic analysis to estimate how many vehicles will use CentrePort Canada Way, but those estimates are still "speculative."

Unlike a traditional road project, McRitchie said the amount of future traffic will depend on how the inland port develops.

So far, 23 companies have purchased land in the two CentrePort business parks.

McRitchie said the four-lane expressway can be expanded to six lanes to accommodate higher traffic volumes in the future.

"It's dependent how quickly (CentrePort) materializes," he said. "What we can't predict is when that's going to happen."

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2012 A3

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