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This article was published 3/3/2020 (358 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg is adding new road construction rules with an eye to making its streets last longer.
The changes should allow concrete construction to last 25 per cent longer and add 15 per cent to the lifespan of asphalt, said Brad Neirinck, City of Winnipeg engineering manager, noting local construction standards have lagged behind those of other Canadian cities.
"We’re behind the times. We’re trying to move our specifications up to match what other jurisdictions are doing and improve our life cycle," he said Tuesday.
The new standards would ensure a higher quality of limestone, gravel and concrete are used to build certain roads, which would be stiffer and offer better drainage, helping them hold up better, said Ahmed Shalaby, a civil engineer who works with the city.
"The improvement in performance is actually quite significant. Some of these materials can be twice as good as what we were using previously," Shalaby told reporters.
"It will drain faster, it will be stronger, it will have fewer cracks."
During Tuesday’s public works committee meeting, Shalaby warned councillors Winnipeg’s previous road standards were "in a way, obsolete."
The higher standards should also prevent some streets from requiring repairs every five or 10 years, he said.
Developers at the meeting raised a series of concerns, including the spectre of increased costs and sending more rejected road materials to the landfill.
Other issues about the new material rules could make it difficult for contractors to budget for work, said Chris Lorenc, president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association.
"We don’t know the extent to which it’s going to be subject to rejection… That creates risk, uncertainty and a potential spike in prices," he said.
However, city council’s public works chairman expects the changes will finally address citizen complaints that local roads haven’t been built to last.
"We needed to get with the times and join other jurisdictions in building roads that are going to be built better and last longer," said Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface).
Despite industry concerns, it’s not clear if the change would actually increase construction project costs, Allard said. Even though the city would require that higher-quality materials be used, projects may also use smaller amounts of them, he said.
"We need to go into the field and apply it to know exactly how much it’s going to cost," Allard said.
After hearing multiple presentations from concerned members of the construction industry, city staff said two key compromises should help address any potential issues: the higher standard for construction work will be implemented this year on contracts and subjected to ongoing review by a working group with industry members, and developers of some private-sector projects will be exempt from the new rules until 2021.
In October, the city’s public service is expected to provide an update on how the new standard works out.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.