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Underpass project set to close Plessis at crossing

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Those who regularly cross the CN Rail Redditt line on Plessis Road will likely need to find an alternate route beginning in July.

Current plans, revealed at an open house at Canad Inns Transcona on Feb. 28, call for the crossing to be closed for approximately a year and a half as part of the $77-million Plessis Road Underpass project.

The project will construct an underpass beneath the line, located just north of Dugald Road on the major Transcona thoroughfare. The project also calls for Plessis to be twinned between Pandora Avenue West and Dugald Road.

Though some similar projects in the past have allowed roads to remain open, project manager Blake Kibbins said several circumstances surrounding this project didn’t allow for Plessis to remain active.

"We did look at maintaining a temporary road, but it’s a very restrictive site with the residential development to the west and the CNR Transcona Yards to the east, as well as all the utilities," he said. "It’s a risk to the project schedule, and it’s an aggressive schedule. It’s also expensive."

Kibbins said he hopes drivers make use of major roads like Regent Avenue West in the meantime, as opposed to diverting traffic into more residential neighbourhoods on routes like Bournais Drive. Local access to Mission Gardens will be maintained when the crossing is closed.

Edward Medzan, who lives on Pandora Avenue West just east of Plessis, said he’ll be making more heavy use of Bournais with Plessis unavailable.

"I disagree with them closing it off," said Medzan. "There’s already enough traffic coming from Ravenhurst (at the east end of Pandora) all the way to Plessis, let alone now if they close this off, it’s going to put a big kibosh on this area."

However, Medzan said the project is needed, recalling times southbound traffic gets backed up past Regent, sometimes as far as Victoria Avenue West.

Retired Blueridge Bay resident Ed Golembioski recalled being held up at the crossing during his days working in downtown Winnipeg.

"When I came home, there were a lot of times where I had to wait for the train to pass before I could cross," he said. "When you look at the other areas of Winnipeg, they’ve had these kinds of developments long before we did, so it’s nice to see this finally being here in Transcona."

For more information on the project, visit http://www.winnipeg.ca/publicworks/MajorProjects/PlessisUnderpass.

A second open house with more detailed plans will take place later this spring.

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