The Manitoba government is moving ahead with plans to double the length of CentrePort Canada Way in order to reduce the traffic bottleneck on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Winnipeg.
The four-lane divided expressway will be extended so that the existing nine-kilometre road connects to the Trans-Canada from Highway 26 near St. Francois Xavier, Man.
"We're anticipating the cost could be in the range of $150 million," Infrastructure Minister Steve Ashton told reporters on Monday.
"If we are able to get the land acquisition done, we could be very close to completion within the five-year plan."
The extended road means trucks can bypass the Trans-Canada entering Winnipeg via Headingley, Man., as they transport cargo to CentrePort, an inland port located near the city's airport, a nearby trucking hub and a rail station.
CentrePort Canada Inc. president Diane Gray says about 70 per cent of the truck and cargo transportation activity in Winnipeg is happening at CentrePort, so building a bypass will only increase that number.
"By providing direct access to the Trans-Canada highway system, we're able to more effectively move cargo from the loading dock directly to the end consumer," she said.
Gray said Manitoba already does $15 billion worth of two-way trade with Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
Safety benefits applauded
The Manitoba Trucking Association applauded the plan, saying the extension of CentrePort Canada Way will benefit industry and give truckers options.
"We can still go through Headingley. We can bypass Headingley," said Terry Shaw, the association's general manager.
"If for some reason, there's an incident that limits access to one of those routes, industry isn't shut down. Traffic isn't shut down."
CAA Manitoba says the $150-million extension will make roads safer and cut down the number of collisions along the stretch of the Trans-Canada between Headingley and Winnipeg.
That section of highway handles more than 19,000 vehicles a day, at a posted speed limit of 70 kilometres an hour, according to the provincial government.
"All I can say is the sooner the better because when it comes to safety, it can't be soon enough," said CAA Manitoba president Mike Mager.
"When you combine this with the already announced changes along the existing Headingley trail, we're very pleased to see what's going on," he added.