The NDP government says it will rebuild Highway 75, Manitoba's crucial trade link with the U.S., to meet interstate standards so that it will remain open when the Red River floods, as it did in 2009.

Premier Greg Selinger said Wednesday $215 million in upgrades will bring the northbound lanes up to the same standards as the southbound lanes, which have been upgraded to interstate standards over the last five years.

He said the investment is expected to create the equivalent of one year of employment for 2,500 people.

"When flooding closes the highway, Manitoba businesses and our economy lose millions. That's why we've made rebuilding it a priority," he said in a news release.

He also said the upgrades will help the province realize the potential of Manitoba's inland port, CentrePort.

Bob Dolyniuk, executive director, the Manitoba Trucking Association, said every week Highway 75 is closed, costs the Manitoba trucking industry about $1.5 million.

Work to bring the highway to interstate standards will include:

  • rebuilding 53 kilometres on northbound lanes of PTH 75 from St. Jean Baptiste to St. Adolphe; and
  • constructing new bridges over the Morris River (north of Morris) and Plum River (south of Morris) that will complement existing flood protection infrastructure for the area.

The province said the design of the new bridges will be finalized after public consultations.

Construction will be done in stages to avoid traffic disruptions.

Rebuilding of the northbound lanes from Aubigny to Ste. Agathe will be tendered this winter with construction beginning in the spring of 2014.

The announcement is the first since Tuesday's throne speech which promised that all new revenue from the PST increase will go into core infrastructure projects.