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Plessis Road closure already affecting family

Local mom fears crunch will worsen when school year begins in September

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It only took Louise Hedman a matter of days to become frustrated with the closure of the CNR Redditt crossing on Plessis Road.

The crossing closed July 28 to allow for a long-awaited $77-million underpass to be built. The crossing will be closed until December 2014.

Though a crossing is open along Bournais Drive just west of the closure, the city is discouraging that route, as it is a residential thoroughfare. Instead, drivers are encouraged to go west to Lagimodière Boulevard or east to Ravenhurst Street to cross the tracks.

Speaking on July 31, Hedman, a South Transcona resident, had already felt the effects of the shutdown. She had a chiropractic appointment in Transcona the afternoon after the closure, decided to take Bournais, and found westbound traffic along Pandora Avenue was backed up to Plessis. On the return trip, she took Ravenhurst and was stopped by a train.

The next day, Hedman took Lagimodière to get to Costco on Regent Avenue West, and noted traffic in the left-hand turning lane wanting to go from Lagimodière to eastbound Dugald was backed up to Warman Road.

Hedman, estimating she crosses the tracks four to six times on an average day, acknowledged the closure might cause her to take her business from Transcona to the Southdale shops along Fermor Avenue.

"That may be where I tend to go now. I think it will affect the businesses (in Transcona), too," she said.

She’s feeling the effects already, but Hedman fears what will come when school lets back in. Her younger daughter, Grace, is set to go into Grade 4 at St. Joseph the Worker School in Transcona, while elder daughter Amanda will attend Grade 8 at St. Alphonsus School in North Kildonan.

"When school starts, it’s going to be ridiculous, because we’re probably going to have to go (on) Ravenhurst and then back up," she said, noting Bournais won’t be an option with Bernie Wolfe Community School letting back in. "It’s probably going to take an extra 10 or 15 minutes to get (Grace) to school."

Hedman has already noticed an increase in traffic along Foch — a gravel road — because of a traffic jam along Dugald.

Hedman said she’s also worried how emergency response times will be affected by the closure. The nearest Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service station to her Foch Avenue home is at 701 Day St. The quickest route for responders would be to take Plessis.

Fire Paramedic Services acting assistant chief Paul Roberts said there are a variety of factors determining which station responds to a call. Though stations on Day and Regent Ave. W. would be affected by the closure when responding to South Transcona, stations on Watt Street and Marion Street might be the ones responding.

Traffic-calming measures like an approximately 20-foot raised traffic table are planned for Bournais to discourage high speeds, but Roberts said that’s just one of several points on the list of things responders consider when in a hurry to save lives.

"Every call has to end safely," he said. "Crews always take that into consideration."

Police response is less of a concern for Hedman — the East District station is located south of the tracks at 1750 Dugald Rd. — but she wonders how those north of the tracks might be affected when every second is vital.

Winnipeg Police Service spokesperson Terry Kolbuck noted in an email units from the station are mobile and respond "to any number of areas."

Kolbuck added the station hasn’t received any concerns from citizens.

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