Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Western rapid-transit extension advised

Bus route would cross three streets, end at Bison Drive

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Winnipeg Transit has made it official -- the second leg of the southwest rapid-transit corridor should run west through Fort Garry before it connects with Pembina Highway.

A report by transit, released Friday, recommends Winnipeg extend the second phase of the Southwest Transitway west through the Parker Lands, then southeast along a Manitoba Hydro corridor. The move comes as little surprise, as last fall, city councillors were told an alignment study concluded this route made the most financial and logistical sense.

The city hired Dillon Consulting in 2012 to examine potential alignments for the bus corridor, and the consultant determined this route has more benefits than installing a busway south along the CN rail line west of Pembina.

The city's public works committee will review the report in the coming week.

The transit report said the proposed route will have less impact on traffic and will allow buses to travel faster as there are fewer road crossings. It is also expected to attract more riders from future housing developments in the Parker Lands and adjacent areas and improve transit connections to Linden Woods and new commercial developments near Kenaston Boulevard and the Sterling Lyon Parkway.

Public works chairman Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) said he thinks it's positive the city will formally decide on a route and move ahead on the second phase of the corridor.

"It's taken way too long to get to this point and we're moving forward full-speed ahead," he said Friday. "I'm positive all three levels of government are going to get this thing moving forward for a 2018 opening."

The first phase of the southwest rapid transit corridor opened last April and runs between Queen Elizabeth Way near The Forks to Jubilee Avenue near Pembina Highway.

The second leg of the busway will run west through the Parker Lands, southeast along the Manitoba Hydro transmission-line corridor, and cross McGillivray Boulevard, Clarence Avenue and Chevrier Boulevard before running south to Bison Drive at the University of Manitoba.

Winnipeg's 2013 capital budget calls for the city to spend $1.1 million on transitway design and ask the province to match the funds to help plan and design future rapid-transit corridors, including an east transitway.

The city plans to spend $10 million on the second phase of the Southwest Transitway in 2014 and another $127.5 million in 2015.

A provincial cabinet spokeswoman said the province is committed to funding one-third of the second leg of the busway, which is $116 million.

Finance chairman Coun. Russ Wyatt (Transcona) said the city hopes the province will match the city's contribution of $137.5 million. He said the city has applied for $75 million in federal funding, which would see the entire second leg of the rapid-transit corridor built as a public-private partnership.

Wyatt said city transit buses and drivers would still operate on the corridor, but all the infrastructure, including roads and stations, would be maintained by the private sector.

"The province and the city will continue to have discussions on rapid transit, and hopefully we will cross the finish line together," Mayor Sam Katz said in a statement.

Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said she hopes the city can find a way to get funding in place to move ahead on the project so it is not plagued by further delays.

"We've taken a long time as a city to get started," she said. "Every time we delay, it costs more to do it."

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 26, 2013 A4

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