The way drivers get around Winnipeg and get to communities near the city could be about to change.
A new plan to the Winnipeg region calls for multiple highways to be twinned and as many 15 cloverleafs — highway interchanges — to be built.
Following two years of community consultation, engineering studies and a technical review, the Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region (PMCP) unveiled its transportation master plan on Tuesday.
The PMCP includes the Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation department as well as representatives from the City of Winnipeg and 16 municipalities surrounding it.
This is the first time Winnipeg officials and the surrounding municipalities have co-ordinated on infrastructure in this way.
“We can't shoot from the hip anymore. We need to make sure as we go forward, that the jobs that are being done are being done in the priorities they need to be in and that the money is on the table to get them done," said Steve Strang, the mayor of St. Clements.
The plan is considered a blueprint to "strengthen connectivity, economic development and smart growth in the capital region over the next 25 years," according to a press release.
"This is a vision document, a plan for the future. You know, up to this point there has been no plan looking at how people come to the capital city from the capital region," said Winnipeg Coun. Grant Nordman, who headed up the report.
The report says the area in and around Winnipeg could grow by more than 200,000 people by 2033, so a transportation plan is needed to deal with it.
The biggest growth is expected to be in the outlying areas, so Highways 59, 15 and 6 are proposed to be twinned, while new bypasses are proposed for Headingley and St. Norbert.
A new route linking Winnipeg and Selkirk is also proposed.
The master plan also noted improvements at Dugald Road and the Perimeter Highway including a new interchange and additional lanes.
Manitoban Cindy King drives along Dugald Road to Oakbank every week.
“It’s a nightmare, and I go, ‘Oh god. Why didn’t I come here first thing in the morning?’ For my job, it’s a nightmare,” she said. “It would be nice if they could get [what’s in the plan] done. In the long range projects that would be, I think, beneficial to everybody.”
Nordman said the projects outlined in the report could cost hundreds of millions of dollars over decades. Where that money comes from will have to be determined, he said.
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said he’s happy municipalities are working together but said funding is still a big question mark.
“I think the key thing would be for them to start communicating with all levels of government to find out if they can get some funding. When they have some funding, they can actually start doing some plans,” said Katz.
Manitoba’s Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, Steve Ashton, said some of the projects are beyond the province’s current five-year strategic infrastructure plan.
“Our investments are very strategic, and the documents identify some of the next steps,” said Ashton.