Since the gunfight at OK Corral in 1881, the Louise Bridge has served as a vital link between northeast Winnipeg and the downtown.
For the last 110 of those years, vehicular traffic of one kind or another has made its way across the now ‘functionally obsolete’ structure. We’ve gotten our money’s worth, but it’s time to pony up. The bridge’s base is beyond repair, and city engineers have sought to decommission and replace it since 2008. Northeast Winnipeg residents know they are driving over the Red River on borrowed time.
In 2009, city planners drew up a list of major road improvements, and the Louise Bridge was rightfully given priority, and soon after placed on its 2011 Transportation Master Plan short-list.
City engineers had to decide where the replacement bridge would be built and, for a while, it appeared a sure thing the site of the new bridge would be just east of the current bridge. The city even expropriated homes there.
In 2014, when federal infrastructure funds became available, we thought everything was on track. However, the city’s administration didn’t ask for any money. That’s when the New Louise Bridge Committee began its campaign. Our surveys confirmed residents wanted a new bridge beside the current bridge, with the old bridge kept open for local traffic.
Our campaign spurred the NDP government to signal its firm commitment to partner with the city on replacing the Louise Bridge in its 2015 throne speech.
Unfortunately, provincial infrastructure initiatives such the new Louise Bridge came to a halt with the election of the Progressive Conservative government in 2016. No effort has been made since to get this project underway.
More recently, the city tethered the Louise Bridge replacement issue to its new Transportation Master Plan and Eastern Corridor Project. Its recommendations are just around the corner - "winter/spring 2022" - which is a bit behind the original schedule, but most welcome. City planners will be recommending a general alignment of a new bridge just a few yards west of its current site, not east as originally proposed.
If you have any questions about other provincial programs, feel free to contact me at 204-415-1122 or email me at email@example.com
Elmwood constituency report
Jim Maloway is the NDP MLA for Elmwood.