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How is the Plessis underpass going?

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A train along the CNR Redditt line crosses Plessis Road last summer. The crossing has been closed to allow for construction of a $77-million underpass.

FILE PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON Enlarge Image

A train along the CNR Redditt line crosses Plessis Road last summer. The crossing has been closed to allow for construction of a $77-million underpass. Photo Store

The headline to this column is the question I’m being asked almost weekly.  

I’ll start with daily observations, such as the small potholes left behind from underground work that has now been completed and the 30-foot pile of soil sitting beside smaller piles of soil and limestone. But I haven’t seen the stop sign guy, any trucks, machinery or contractors for quite some time.    

I spoke to Jim Feeny, director of public and government affairs for CN in Montreal, and asked him about CN’s financial contribution to the project and the delay in negotiations.  

CN’s position is that it would like its contribution to be based on what the City of Winnipeg’s cost will be and not the total project cost. This issue has now gone to arbitration.

I asked him why trains are stopping at our road crossings for anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes. He said that the cold weather affects the braking systems and air pressure.  Once the trains are stopped, it takes some time to build up the pressure. They are trying to shorten the trains as a result, but this creates more trains travelling on the tracks.

Christina Cusson, the public affairs officer for CN in Winnipeg, clarified that a train is only allowed to be stopped for no more than five minutes. If a train is stopped for an excessive amount of time or is backing up onto a roadway, people can call 1-888-888-5909 or visit www.cn.ca/en/contact-us

Be sure to note the date, time, street name and the number of the engine car.

In life-threatening situations, CN Police can be contacted by calling 1-800-465-9239.

I have also learned that there are three pipelines running along the CN tracks which will have to move to complete an underpass project. One of the companies involved cannot begin work until June of this year.  

So there you have it. As it stands right now, fingers are being pointed in every direction and the patience of people in the neighbourhood is being tested.  

At this point, I don’t care whose fault any of it is — just get on with it or open up the road until the mess has been straightened out.  

On the bright side, you can answer your emails while waiting 30 minutes for the train, clean up your vehicle or test your patience while your kids fight.

If those don’t work for you, call CN. Expect a celebration party in Southside when it’s all over.

Louise Hedman is a community correspondent for Transcona.

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