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Municipal officials skeptical about bypass

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Headingley mayor Wilf Taillieu and St. Francois Xavier reeve Roger Poitras are asking for more details after a provincial government announcement of a new Headingley bypass.

"They should have given us notice," said Poitras. "We started to get phone calls right away."

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said in a March 10 news release that preliminary engineering work on the bypass is finished, and detailed engineering work and public consultation on route selection will begin after the province acquires a parcel of land owned by the Department of National Defence and used as a rifle range.

CentrePort Canada Way will be doubled and the four-lane divided expressway will be extended from the Trans-Canada Highway at PTH 26 near St. Francois Xavier to the existing portion of CentrePort Canada Way. This new bypass will move traffic off the current Trans-Canada section that passes through the RM of Headingley.

Although the provincial government’s map seems to show the western end of the bypass merging with the Trans-Canada Highway very close to its present junction with Highway 26 — next to the famous White Horse statue — Poitras said he and the other municipal councillors haven’t been informed about details of the route.

He’s been fielding calls from local residents who are worried about having their land expropriated for the bypass.

The municipality made a request to Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation for more information on exactly where the bypass will be constructed.

Infrastructure and Transportation assistant deputy minister Lance Vigfusson said a more detailed map will be provided to St. Francois Xavier council, but the exact location of the bypass’ western end hasn’t been determined yet.

The intersection of the bypass, Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 26 could be an interchange, Vigfusson said.

"We haven’t finished our detailed design yet," he said, adding that public consultations will be held when a draft design is ready.

Taillieu wonders where the money is coming from to pay for bypass construction. He said he’s spoken to Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley MP Steven Fletcher about the project.

"They (the provincial government) don’t have any federal funding at this time," Taillieu said.

According to the provincial news release, the project is estimated to cost over $150 million. Depending on the land acquisition required, construction will be completed as part of the province’s five-year infrastructure plan.

The release states that upgrades to the Trans-Canada Highway in Headingley, including intersection improvements and dividing the highway, are continuing. The section between John Blumberg and Coverall roads, including new lights at Cameron Street, will be completed this summer.

Taillieu said he expects the entire section of the Trans-Canada Highway running through Headingley to be divided by a median to make it safer, but he hasn’t heard when the provincial government is committing the money needed for this work.

"They weren’t too clear on when they’re going to do that," he said.

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