Long-awaited extension to Chief Peguis Trail set to begin in 2010

Construction will begin next year on a $64-million extension of the Chief Peguis Trail in Winnipeg.

City councillor for area questions transparency of public-private deal

Construction will begin next year on a $64-million extension of the Chief Peguis Trail in Winnipeg.

The expressway, which currently runs from Main Street to Henderson Highway, will be continued about four kilometres farther east to Lagimodiere Boulevard.

The project will be completed through a public-private-partnership. The city will pay a company — or consortium — to finance, build and operate the expressway. The same process was used for the Charleswood Bridge.

The east-west corridor is long overdue for the city's North Kildonan neighbourhood. It will relieve traffic on other streets now handling far more traffic than intended.

Local streets, such as Springfield Road, were designed to handle approximately 5,000 vehicles per day, but that street now has almost four times the volume today, according to Coun. Jeff Browaty, who represents the North Kildonan ward.

But the private aspect of the deal is worrisome to Browaty, who fears important decisions will be made behind closed doors.

"I'd like it to be open and transparent," he said.

Councillor wants underpass at Rothesay

Specifically, he wants to know how much it would cost to put an underpass at Rothesay Street, to save it from gridlock if an intersection is created.

City officials have said they will investigate, but it will be up to the mayor and his cabinet whether they release the cost, and there's no certainty about a vote on the underpass proposal, said Browaty.

"I think all elected councillors should have the opportunity to make the call, when all of the numbers are on the table," he said.

Coun. Bill Clement, who chairs the public works committee and sits on the mayor's cabinet, expects the costs will be discussed "one on one" with the private operator and perhaps never at a formal meeting or voted on by council.

Council has already approved the spending, and taking more proposals to more meetings will only slow down the project, said Clement.