Delay Plessis Road underpass project, MLA urges city
Jim Maloway wants access road for motorists built before construction begins
A Winnipeg MLA is calling on the city to delay construction of the Plessis Road underpass until an access road is built, but the area's councillor says he worries that would put the entire project in jeopardy.
The Elmwood-Transcona NDP Association has sent out flyers demanding that the project be postponed until a two-lane access road is built on the west side of Plessis.
Elmwood NDP MLA Jim Maloway says starting Aug. 1, Plessis at Dugald Road will be shut down for 17 months as work on the underpass begins, causing traffic gridlock.
Maloway said there was initially a plan to build a temporary access road to move motorists north and south of the CN rail line, but the city decided not to build it.
"When you think about it, keeping this open for a year and a half would be [a] huge relief for the residents of Transcona who are going to have to spend extra hours in their cars every day," he told CBC News on Tuesday.
But Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt said city engineers have told him there would not be enough time to build an extra road.
In order for the project to qualify for federal funding, it has to be complete by March 2015, he added.
"They basically said to for us to get this project done, we don't have time. The issue's not the cost, it's more the timing. They want to get this project moving and built," Wyatt said.
"We have to get on with building this project, you know, and I think the province has to stop these games, whether it's real or not, and get on board once and for all with this project. It's good for the community, it's good for the city."
The government is committed to the Plessis Road underpass project and it does not endorse the flyer, a spokesperson told CBC News in an email.
'Prepare for gridlock'
The flyer, which includes an photograph of Maloway with fellow NDP MLAs Daryl Reid (Transcona) and Bidhu Jha (Radisson), warns residents of traffic woes if Plessis Road is closed as scheduled.
"If you are an area driver who uses these routes, prepare for gridlock every day," it states in part. "And if you are a resident, be prepared for cars speeding down your back lane."
The flyer also warns that emergency vehicles and transit buses may be rerouted and delayed as a result of the closure.
Jha distanced himself from the flyer, telling CBC News on Tuesday afternoon that he's not sure how he got included in the campaign.
The city says building the access road would take too long to build and cost millions of dollars, but Maloway believes it can be done for much less money and time.
"It can be done for half a million dollars and it can be done probably in weeks or a couple of months. I see no delays at all," he said.
Below is the flyer from the Elmwood-Transcona NDP Association, calling on residents to demand that construction of the Plessis Road underpass be postponed until a two-lane access road is built.