Now that Winnipeg has a shiny new airport terminal, the drive to the city's downtown desperately needs a facelift, says the Chamber of Commerce.

Route 90 between St. Matthews Avenue and Ness Avenue is a battered, embarrassing blemish when it should be a showcase, says Chamber president Dave Angus.

"Let's turn this strip, which really is an eyesore, into a real icon for our city, a real showcase," he said.

The $585-million James A. Richardson International Airport terminal officially opened on Sunday after construction began in 2007.

"Why would we waste that investment, looking at all of the bells and whistles that we have available within that aiport, to eliminate that good feeling and that good image of Winnipeg by accepting this route?" said Angus.

"We're on a roll. We will no longer accept second class here in Winnipeg and this is second class. We need to get on with it."

Angus estimates that for about $3 million, the long chain-link fences on either side of Route 90, between St. Matthews and Ness, could be replaced with much more appealing and hardy plants while decorative light standards could line the median with banners highlighting the city's attractions.

Talk about upgrades has gone on for years. It's time to do it, he said, adding the cost could be shared between government and the private sector.

The city has been talking about sprucing up so-called 'image routes' as part of its transportation master plan. The last open house on that is happening Wednesday at the Millennium Library from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Angus is hoping Route 90 is at the top of the list when it comes time for the facelifts.

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