The City of Winnipeg is seeking bids to extend the life of the Arlington Bridge — a century-old structure that has survived no shortage of criticism or construction since it was built in 1912.
Last week, the city posted a request for tender for a contractor to undertake numerous structural steel-related repairs to the North End overpass. Among them: replacing eroding or corroded elements and installing new steel pieces, including diaphragms, support brackets and decking.
The contractor would be required to temporarily support the floor beams framing to enable construction while the bridge is still open, according to the request.
Bids will be accepted until May 22.
For years, the city has sought technical expertise and community feedback on the future of the bridge, which was originally built to connect two Winnipeg neighbourhoods, the West End and North End, separated by the CP Rail yards.
Since the 1940s, the bridge’s condition has been questioned, leading to countless temporary closures — as well as warnings of a permanent one. It was expected to be demolished this year.
The latest posting comes almost one year exactly since the city completed its "A Better Bridge for Arlington" project.
"Today, the bridge is nearing the end of its usable life and must be replaced," states a public engagement report posted on the city’s website in May 2019.
Last year’s report expanded on a 2016 functional design study of the Arlington Street structure. The design study determined it was best to replace the bridge in its current location.
Designs with accessibility standards, improved active transportation and better traffic flow in mind were submitted and considered. Two final proposals included three permanent traffic lanes (two northbound and one southbound), two unidirectional bike lanes and two sidewalks.
However, the transformation of the viaduct remained in limbo because the project never received funding. The lowest estimated price tag for a replacement bridge is $319 million.
In June 2019, a city report identified 22 major capital projects for the next decade — a new Arlington Bridge included — that totalled $4.9 billion. Mayor Brian Bowman said the report underlined the need for greater financial assistance from other levels of government.
More recently, the city ranked upgrades to the aging north end sewage treatment plant, relocating its insect-control centre, and replacing residents’ water meters as top infrastructure priorities. In a list of infrastructure priorities, the Arlington Street bridge placed 31st on the list.
Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.
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Updated on Monday, May 4, 2020 at 2:25 PM CDT: Typos fixed.