Winnipeg has been down this road before — a major sports event, thousands of visitors descending on the city and all the accompanying travel-delay headaches of a construction season in full swing.

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This article was published 20/7/2017 (1433 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg has been down this road before — a major sports event, thousands of visitors descending on the city and all the accompanying travel-delay headaches of a construction season in full swing.

The last time the Manitoba capital was in such a spotlight — playing host to FIFA women’s World Cup soccer matches two years ago — it drew criticism from visiting fans as they battled road construction and traffic snarls on their way to Investors Group Field.

With the Canada Summer Games just around the corner, there will be more visitors and athletes and more venues and construction in play, creating a difficult balancing act for the city as it tries to get people to venues as easily as possible and keep construction moving in a timely fashion.

"We’ve been advised from our public service that there should not be any construction in the vicinity of the venues and we are hopeful that is the case," Mayor Brian Bowman said this week.

Despite the assurances, Bowman acknowledged there is no way to avoid construction, which is currently underway near several major Canada Games venues, including Bell MTS Place, the Pan Am Pool, Investors Group Field, Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex and Shaw Park.

"There is no way around it. There will be lots of construction city-wide during the Games," said Bowman, who added the best way to keep track of civic roadworks is to download the free Waze navigation app.

The 18-day Canada Games kick off July 28 and are expected to attract 20,000 visitors to the city, plus more than 4,400 athletes and officials. By comparison, the 2015 women’s World Cup games drew about 10,000 fans to Winnipeg.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Construction work along Bishop Grandin Boulevard. The city says there’s no way to avoid all construction during the Canada Summer Games.</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Construction work along Bishop Grandin Boulevard. The city says there’s no way to avoid all construction during the Canada Summer Games.

The 2017 construction season features more than 150 undertakings, with six "major projects" underway, including two on Pembina Highway, the Waverley Street underpass and the southwest transit corridor, according to a city spokeswoman. At the same time, there will be between 45 and 110 extra buses on city streets transporting Games teams.

In order to keep traffic flowing during the Games, "We will be restricting construction in areas around venues, hotels, major tourist locations and Transit shuttle routes, but most other areas will proceed without interruption," the spokeswoman said in an email.

In 2015, construction on Pembina Highway was a particular cause of frustration for soccer fans, despite efforts by crews to keep traffic moving by limiting lane closures.

For the Summer Games, the city is taking a similar approach to certain sections of Pembina Highway, maintaining two lanes of traffic in each direction between Grant Avenue and Osborne Street. (A similar plan is outlined for the Pembina Rapid Transit corridor overpass project between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.)

However, no lane closures will be allowed on Pembina between Bison Drive and Bishop Grandin Boulevard, and the ramp from eastbound Bishop Grandin to Pembina will remain open.

In the past, host cities for major sports events have been asked to sign contracts with specific obligations regarding construction.

But Jeff Hnatiuk, president and chief executive officer of the 2017 Canada Summer Games, said organizers did not request the City of Winnipeg to do so.

"There was nothing specific to the point of us getting into any contractual obligations," Hnatiuk said. "The city has indicated to us that they will restrict construction at least in and around venues.

"We do anticipate that there will be increases in traffic flow from the Games and, of course, there’s always the concern of construction reducing access to the venues. That’s always something that’s in the back of our minds."

The city told organizers construction will be restricted one week before and after the Games (which wrap up Aug. 13), as well as during events, Hnatiuk said.

Contractors whose projects will be affected have been given advance notice by the city in order to plan around the games, a city spokeswoman said.

Coun. Marty Morantz acknowledged there were concerns in 2015, but said he feels Winnipeg learned from the experience.

"The city is doing a lot to make sure we’re prepared for it," said Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge). "It’s a question of accommodating the Games and there are a lot of positive measures the city has taken.

"There will be additional traffic, of course, but the city is trying to mitigate the impact of that as much as possible."

Winnipeg will spend $1.3 million to help cover transportation and security costs for the Games.

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
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Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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