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Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans will likely be able to take rapid transit to football games starting in the 2020 season.

Construction is scheduled to begin next year on the second phase of Winnipeg's bus rapid-transit corridor, extending it by nearly eight kilometres, from the intersection of Pembina Highway and Jubilee Avenue to the University of Manitoba. It's expected to be completed in late 2019. Following a period of testing and training, transit buses should start running the route in April 2020.

The announcement of the largest municipal infrastructure project in the city's history -- it's also the first public-private partnership of its kind for transit in Canada -- was made by representatives of all three levels of government at the downtown bus depot Monday afternoon.

Mayor Brian Bowman praised the federal government for not only listening to the funding calls from municipal governments, but delivering.

"This is a great day for Winnipeg. This is what happens when all three levels of government work together," he said.

The project, which is eligible to receive up to $137.3 million from Ottawa and $450 million split evenly between the province and the City of Winnipeg, will also add 10 transit stations, two park-and-ride facilities, a pair of transitway bridges, an overpass, an underpass and a tunnel.

The first phase of the city's rapid transit began operations in April 2012. It runs parallel to the railway tracks from Queen Elizabeth Way near The Forks to Pembina Highway and Jubilee Avenue.

The city will be borrowing its share and will start making $20-million repayments in 2020. The mayor said council has yet to identify where its funds will come from, but people won't have to wait too long.

Mayor Brian Bowman (from left), Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Shelly Glover, Winnipeg Transit assistant chief inspector Craig Gill and  Minister of Jobs and the Economy Kevin Chief announce funding for Phase 2 of rapid transit Monday.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mayor Brian Bowman (from left), Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Shelly Glover, Winnipeg Transit assistant chief inspector Craig Gill and Minister of Jobs and the Economy Kevin Chief announce funding for Phase 2 of rapid transit Monday.

"The city is obligated to identify where we're going to come up with the funds. Those plans are being finalized as part of the budget process, and we'll be tabling that with the budget soon," Bowman said.

The administration has suggested the funds could be found by raising transit fares, raising property taxes or both. The $20 million is the equivalent of a property-tax increase of four to five percentage points.

Bowman doesn't want to stop at this corridor. He's hoping Ottawa and the province will commit to building four or five more by 2030.

Shelly Glover, Manitoba's senior cabinet minister and federal minster of Canadian heritage and official languages, said the Harper government is on board and believes public infrastructure and public transit projects should be a top priority.

"(The southwest transitway) will improve traffic flow and the air we breathe," she said.

Glover said rapid transit would qualify for money from the gasoline-tax fund, which sat at $20 million for Manitoba in 2006 but has since grown to $60 million.

"It's up to the municipalities. The money is there, they just need to make the best pitch they can (for it)," she said.

Kevin Chief, provincial minister of jobs and the economy, said he is proud of the unique 50-50 relationship the province has with the city.

"It's the only agreement like that across the country. We're always open to working with the mayor. We have a process that we have to go through and we're open to continuing to build and work with the mayor, not only on his election commitments but state-of-the-art modern public transit, too," he said.

The city will select a private company to maintain the corridor from 2019 to 2049, at which point it will be turned over to the city. This is similar to the models used recently by the city for the $195-million Disraeli Bridges Project and the $110-million Chief Peguis Trail extension.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca