BY RICHARD GILBERT - The Manitoba government has started construction on a project to extend a section of the Trans-Canada Highway to an existing roadway, which will improve access to an inland port.
“As CentrePort serves as a multi-mode site for trade and transportation, it is critical that adjoining and surrounding infrastructure not only keeps up to support current demand, but anticipates the steady growth in traffic this corner of Winnipeg and Manitoba will see,” said Chris Lorenc, president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association in a press release.
“With all three levels of government contributing significantly to the creation and development of CentrePort, Canada’s first inland port serving the mid-continental trade corridor and beyond, it cannot be understated how important the Headingley bypass will be,” Lorenc said.
Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton recently announced a plan to improve access to the inland port, by doubling the length of CentrePort Canada Way, which is a 9.1 kilometre expressway.
The roadway opened in November 2013 to provide the transport industry with better access to the James A. Richardson International Airport and the CP Weston rail intermodal facility.
However, there is a bottleneck between Headingley and Winnipeg.
For this reason, the CentrePort Canada Way expansion project will double the length of the expressway from the Trans-Canada Highway to Highway 26 near St. François Xavier.
It will also include a bypass to better handle traffic volumes moving to and from the west.
Ashton said preliminary engineering work has been completed.
Detailed engineering work and public consultation on route selection will begin once the province acquires a parcel of land required for the corridor currently owned by the Department of National Defence.
The land is currently being used as a rifle range.
The project is estimated to cost in excess of $150 million, but a more accurate costing will not be available until detailed designs are completed.
Depending on the land acquisition required, construction will be completed as part of the province’s five-year infrastructure plan, which was released earlier this month.
Ashton said the stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway from Headingley to Winnipeg is a reduced speed zone at 70 km/h, which handles more than 19,000 vehicles per day.
“It is a congestive bottleneck for traffic moving to and from the west,” he said.
“This is the next major infrastructure project critical in growing the Manitoba economy and will help ensure the further development of CentrePort Canada, the Winnipeg airport and surrounding as a premiere hub for trade by air, rail and road.”
This new project is part of Manitoba’s new $5.5 billion five-year capital plan, which aims to upgrade highways and bridges on major trade corridors.
The government will invest more than $3.7 billion in roads, highways and bridges, which includes $200 million in improvements such as interchanges to move products from CentrePort to Highway 75 and south to the U.S.
CentrePort Canada is a private sector-led corporation, created by Manitoba provincial legislation, to build the port and develop Manitoba’s air, rail, sea and trucking infrastructure.
CentrePort Canada is an inland port and foreign trade zone, which provides access to major national and international road, rail and sea transportation.