Plessis underpass work not moving fast enough, some worry
Work to build a multimillion-dollar underpass in Winnipeg's Transcona neighbourhood isn't moving quickly enough, according to some who say they haven't seen much progress in the past year.
Plessis Road between Dugald Road and Kernaghan Avenue has been closed to vehicles and pedestrians since July 2013 as work began on the $77-million underpass project.
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The City of Winnipeg says the underpass, which aims to ease traffic congestion in the area by lowering Plessis and moving the CN Rail line that crosses it north of Dugald onto twin rail bridges, should be ready by the fall of 2015.
But some area residents and commuters who drive by the underpass site say they have not noticed much construction work going on there, leading them to wonder if the project will be ready on time or on budget.
"I think that's very ambitious, and I don't really see that happening, not from the amount of work that I've seen so far," said Denny Giasson, who lives directly behind the construction site.
"I don't see any digging out to get into an underpass. I just see, like, you know, them finally starting to put a sewer line in — a year later."
Project could be in jeopardy, MLA warns
Elmwood NDP MLA Jim Maloway says he was one of just a few political guests who attended a meeting with residents over the weekend to discuss the Plessis underpass project.
"What is the plan to finish this project as soon as possible? That's what the residents are asking," Maloway said Monday.
Both the provincial and federal governments are committing $25 million for the underpass, but Maloway said the project could be in jeopardy if there are delays and cost overruns this year.
"It's turning out be another mismanaged city project on the part of Mayor Katz and Councillor Wyatt," he said, referring to Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt.
Wyatt told CBC News the delays are due to city negotiations with CN Rail over who will pay for what, as well as safety concerns involving CN staff on site.
"This project, short of a nuclear war breaking out between Russia and the United States … that would be the only thing that could…. No, [in] all seriousness, I mean, this project is moving ahead," Wyatt said.
In an email to CBC News, a city spokesperson said the project is not expected to exceed its $77-million budget.
As for concerns that not much progress is visible at the construction site, the spokesperson said work is being done there.
"There is construction going on right now. The contract to construct the pump house, rail structure and adjacent roadways was awarded in March. There may be times when construction activities are not visible," the spokesperson said in an email.