A city committee wants the southwest rapid transit corridor to be extended to the University of Manitoba within the next five years.

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A city committee wants the southwest rapid transit corridor to be extended to the University of Manitoba within the next five years.

On Tuesday, council's public works committee approved what city staff call an "aggressive" goal of completing the second phase of the southwest rapid transit corridor by 2016. The move occurred after Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi raised concern the city's new transportation master plan contains timelines to build road improvements, but not rapid transit corridors.

The planning blueprint is intended to give developers and residents an idea of the location of future transportation routes. It calls for major road improvements over the next 20 years, including widening Kenaston Boulevard and extending the Chief Peguis Trail from Main Street to McPhillips Street.

Gerbasi said the plan should set similar timelines for rapid transit corridors, since it will set a goal and give the city the push it needs to find the funding from other levels of government.

The first phase of the southwest rapid transit corridor ends at Jubilee Avenue near Pembina Highway and will be complete by next year.

Gerbasi said Winnipeg should aim to finish the second phase that connects to Bison Drive near the University of Manitoba by 2016.

Public works chairman Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) and Coun. Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) voted in favour of Gerbasi's amendment.

City staff cautioned it will be a difficult target to meet. Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop said the city would basically have to have the funding in place now in order to complete the project by 2016.

"To say we're going to finish that by 2016, I don't think is a stretch," Gerbasi said, noting the city does not have the funding in place for many of the proposed road projects either.

The amendment to the transportation master plan is one of several that were approved by council's public works committee on Tuesday. The committee also voted to include greenhouse-gas reduction as one of the master plan's goals, and stipulate the plan for the eastern transit corridor would be flexible if area development changes before its construction.

Council's executive policy committee will hold a special meeting before today's city council meeting to vote on the transportation plan and the proposed amendments. City council will then vote on the planning document later this morning.

Public works director Brad Sacher said city staff did not initially set timelines to complete rapid transit corridors since it is difficult to predict what ridership and land development will look like over the next 20 years. Sacher said he can't say whether the 2016 goal is realistic, since it depends on what council decides and funding from other levels of government.

"That's a very ambitious rapid transit scenario," Sacher said, adding later: "It doesn't mean it can't be done, but there are a lot of things that have to fall into place as soon as possible."

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca