Pedestrian access to Portage and Main would cost taxpayers millions: report
Published Friday, October 13, 2017 12:54PM CST
Last Updated Friday, October 13, 2017 6:11PM CST
Emily Halldorson says there's a major roadblock in Winnipeg, in the middle of the city.
"Most really vibrant downtown neighbourhoods in major cities are walkable," said Halldorson.
To make Winnipeg more walkable, Halldorson says the cement barriers need to come down at Portage and Main.
"There's obviously a line of desire that I'd like to walk through that intersection as a pedestrian, but I can't," said Halldorson.
Now a long awaited report and traffic study have been made public on reopening the intersection to pedestrians. The project is one of Mayor Brian Bowman's key campaign pledges.
"It is in the end a commitment to the heart of our city," said Bowman.
That commitment comes with a huge price tag.
The study says puts a cost to tear down the barricades, upgrade sidewalks and curbs, do repairs in the underground concourse and maintain the same level of transit service: $11.6 million.
"There is a cost to the city to continue to neglect below grade as well as at grade," said Bowman
Changes would be made in a phased in approach as surrounding property owners do their own upgrades to buildings and plazas. The report is recommending council budget $3.5 million to get the ball rolling. $2 million would come from the road repair fund.
Councillor Jeff Browaty, a longtime opponent of the project, says the Portage and Main plan has nothing to do with road repairs.
"So this is really a two million dollar cut, a two million dollar reduction on our regional streets," said Browaty.
Courier Bernie Pollard agrees. He drives through the intersection daily and has safety concerns about mixing vehicle with pedestrian traffic.
"That would be a stupid idea, there would be more fatalities within a week than there have ever been since it's been closed," said Pollard.
But some of the money will be used for design work to minimize traffic issues.
Emily Halldorson is confident one day she'll safely cross the intersection on foot.
"I think we can figure it out," said Halldorson
The Mayor’s Executive Policy Committee will vote on the initial $3.5 million allocation next week. It then goes to City Council for a final vote the following week.