New overpass open, but spending on infrastructure still down

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The Highway 59-Perimeter overpass is open and completed except for a few final touches.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/11/2018 (1360 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Highway 59-Perimeter overpass is open and completed except for a few final touches.

“All bridges are open, everything is done,” although a bit of paving and some cleanup still remains, Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said.

“We pave until it gets to a certain temperature and then the asphalt doesn’t bind,” he explained.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Road construction with the Winnipeg skyline in the background. Highway construction projects next year include rehabilitation of floodway bridges on Highways 59 and 75.

The overpass and completion of the last bit of Perimeter Highway cost $250 million.

“Keep in mind that, at its peak, 70,000 vehicles go through that intersection, including jet fuel (from the Esso distribution centre in East St. Paul),” said Schuler.

“Compared to the Winnipeg South Perimeter, whose peak is 45,000, that intersection is by far our busiest.”

Wayne Glowacki/Winnipeg Free Press Files Chris Lorenc, president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association says by reducing spending, the provincial government is demonstrating that infrastructure investment is not a priority.

Schuler made his comment after appearing at the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association annual meeting on Friday. He announced the province is spending $350 million in highway infrastructure in 2019, similar to 2018 but a sharp drop from previous years.

Chris Lorenc, president of the heavy construction association, complained the highways budget is 55 per cent less than the $502 million spent in 2016.

“The government has reversed course, demonstrating that infrastructure investment is not a priority,” Lorenc said.

The reduced spending has forced layoffs of even long-term employees, and threatens the sustainability of Manitoba’s heavy construction industry.

Lorenc added highway budget cuts “stunts potential growth.” The federal department of finance in 2011 calculated that every dollar invested in strategic infrastructure earned a return of $1.60 to the Gross Domestic Product.

Schuler listed some of the larger projects planned for next year, including gravel road reconstruction on Provincial Road 280 between Thompson and Gillam, concrete paving on two stretches of Highway 75, and bridge improvements on Highways 10 and 16.

Highway construction projects next year also include rehabilitation of floodway bridges on Highways 59 and 75.

Other work includes major paving projects, bridge replacement and rehabilitation projects and safety improvements at various intersections in the province.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

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