The deal to keep traffic flowing across the Disraeli Bridge hinges on whether to build a brand-new span or fix the old one -- and MP Jim Maloway says the city and province are leaning towards building new.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/9/2009 (4504 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The deal to keep traffic flowing across the Disraeli Bridge hinges on whether to build a brand-new span or fix the old one -- and MP Jim Maloway says the city and province are leaning towards building new.

The NDP MLA-turned-MP, who led the campaign to keep the bridge open during repairs or reconstruction, said the city has all but decided to build a new, four-lane span just east of the existing bridge.

Once the new bridge is built, the decaying span would be torn down.

That would allow Elmwood, North Kildonan and Transcona traffic to cross the Red River into downtown normally during construction.

However, Maloway said a separate bike and pedestrian span may be a non-starter. Instead, bike lanes will be built on the new span, which Maloway said makes more sense anyway.

"In some ways, it's even better than I wanted, but it doesn't have six lanes," said the MP, who helped orchestrate a petition and lobbying campaign to get the city and the Doer government to keep the bridge open during construction.

Despite Maloway's optimism, political and administrative sources say the city hasn't yet decided whether to build new and keep the old bridge totally open, or repair the existing span, which would cause traffic delays.

After residents in the northeast corner of the city balked at the proposed 16-month closure of their main downtown connection, the city asked contractors to find a way to shorten the Disraeli closing or even eliminate it. That could cost more than the original $140-million price tag.

The city is still weighing the financial pros and cons of each option to ensure any extra cash required is justified. A provincial spokesman says they're close to a deal and Premier Gary Doer plans to meet with Mayor Sam Katz next week on the issue.

Maloway said there is still some wrangling over the amount and timing of provincial funding.

The province has so far committed $50 million.

Ottawa has not expressed an interest in funding the bridge repairs or reconstruction, and the city has not put the bridge on its wish list for federal infrastructure funds.

On Friday, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz insisted no deal is in place to prevent Disraeli from being shut during construction, though he has committed to looking at all options to keep the bridge open.

 

-- With files from Bartley Kives

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca