September 26, 2017

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Second Portage and Main study to examine 'pedestrian friendly' and urban design opportunities

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>The second study, awarded in July to a Vancouver firm at a cost of $70,000, is examining how the city can integrate the public spaces above and below ground with the adjoining private property at Portage and Main.</p></p>

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / FREE PRESS FILES

The second study, awarded in July to a Vancouver firm at a cost of $70,000, is examining how the city can integrate the public spaces above and below ground with the adjoining private property at Portage and Main.

City hall has commissioned a second consultant’s study examining the re-opening of Portage and Main, even as its putting the final touches to an administrative report for council’s October meeting that will outline the cost to remove the barriers.

Doug McNeil, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the second study, awarded in July to a Vancouver firm at a cost of $70,000, is examining how the city can integrate the public spaces above and below ground with the adjoining private property.

But McNeil would not say when officials will propose a final cost for re-opening the intersection and design plans, and he would not say if the city will be ready to move ahead with the re-opening in 2018.

“I’m going to not answer any more detailed questions because it will all be in the (October) report,” McNeil told reporters.

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City hall has commissioned a second consultant’s study examining the re-opening of Portage and Main, even as its putting the final touches to an administrative report for council’s October meeting that will outline the cost to remove the barriers.

Doug McNeil, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the second study, awarded in July to a Vancouver firm at a cost of $70,000, is examining how the city can integrate the public spaces above and below ground with the adjoining private property.

But McNeil would not say when officials will propose a final cost for re-opening the intersection and design plans, and he would not say if the city will be ready to move ahead with the re-opening in 2018.

"I’m going to not answer any more detailed questions because it will all be in the (October) report," McNeil told reporters.

McNeil said the second study was done in response to concerns raised by property owners at the famous intersection. They want to know what city hall will do to complement the investments they plan on spending once the intersection is open.

McNeil said the property owners said "the city needs to have a vision," adding the first study commissioned by city hall only looked at the impacts to traffic flows and pedestrians once the intersection is opened.

The second consulting team will look at "how can we make Portage and Main more pedestrian friendly, what kind of new urban design opportunities are there for Portage and Main, again, above and below," McNeil said.

McNeil said he will present an administrative report to council at its October 25 meeting, based on the findings of the first study, which determined the impact on traffic flows once the intersection is opened. McNeil said the administrative report will also include preliminary cost estimates to remove the barriers and changes to the intersection to accommodate pedestrian crossings but he cautioned those costs would only be a Class 4 or higher estimate — council can only approve a project once the estimates have reached a Class 3 estimate or lower.

McNeil said it’s not certain if the second study will be finished by the October meeting and if any of the proposals for design changes will be presented to council.

"I don’t know exactly how we’re going to incorporate that," McNeil said. "We’re currently talking about that and working on the (administrative) report."

McNeil said the reports going to council in October are only "the first steps" towards re-opening the intersection, adding the administration will make a recommendation on how to move forward, including eventually incorporating the proposals from the second study.

McNeil said the Vancouver firm involved did look at previous studies, including proposals submitted in response to a design competition held by former mayor Glen Murray in 2003, which was intended to show what the intersection could look like. That competition drew submissions from architectural firms from around the world, but were never implemented.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

 

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