Expect long commutes when it snows, Winnipeg expert warns

Drivers already frustrated with slow commutes on Winnipeg's snow-covered streets can expect longer commute times every time it snows, says a city planning expert.

Too many cars on the roads, combined with bad weather, a 'recipe for disaster'

Traffic was jammed on Dakota Street, south of Fermor Avenue, on Thursday morning. (Caroline Barghout/CBC)

Drivers already frustrated with slow commutes on Winnipeg's snow-covered streets can expect longer commute times every time it snows, says a city planning expert.

The city is growing and there are generally too many drivers on the road, says Jino Distasio of the Institute for Urban Studies at the University of Winnipeg.

Distasio said when it snows — like it did on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning — that just magnifies drivers' existing traffic woes.

"It's inevitable that we're going to face longer lines and longer commute times," he told CBC News.

"When you add in changes into the road conditions, it's really a recipe for disaster."

On Wednesday, some drivers trying to head home from the city's downtown experienced commutes ranging from 10 minutes long to well over an hour.

Some drivers were trapped in gridlock for almost two hours on Thursday morning, especially on roads from the St. Vital area to downtown.

Data from the City of Winnipeg shows several major routes to the downtown have an average of 50,000 to 60,000 vehicles every weekday.

Distasio said that's too many vehicles to move efficiently, especially in less-than-ideal weather conditions.

"That in itself contributed to, you know, several hour-long commutes that you'd expect to see in a New York City, not in a Winnipeg," he said.

Distasio said the traffic congestion would ease if more drivers took the bus, but he added that Winnipeg's transit system currently cannot handle the growing demand, especially from the suburbs.


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