Manitoba

Winnipeg ponders public art and land-use implications for a new Arlington Bridge

Winnipeg is seeking public input into the design of the new Arlington Bridge — but only in terms of the public art on the span and recreation amenities around it

$300M project remains unfunded; earliest start date for construction is 2020

The city plans to build a new span over the CPR Winnipeg Yards immediately to the west of the existing Arlington Bridge. The project design is underway, but there is no funding in place. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Winnipeg is seeking public input into the design of the new Arlington Bridge — but only in terms of the public art on the span and recreation amenities around it.

The city is in the process of completing a detailed design for an Arlington Bridge replacement to rise immediately west of the existing structure, which was completed in 1912 and has undergone numerous repairs.

The bridge-replacement project has a $300-million price tag, based on a rough estimate that will be refined once the detailed design is finished in early 2018. ​

While the alignment of the bridge was determined in 2016, the city is still deciding whether to replace the existing camelback-truss structure with a less ornate girder bridge or a visually dramatic arch bridge, said Darren Burmey, Winnipeg's bridge planning and operations engineer.

"It's very challenging to build in the railyards," he said on Wednesday, adding the city and consulting firm Stantec are working closely with the Canadian Pacific Railway to determine the best design in terms of both the cost and the engineering advantages.

The only area where the city is seeking public opinion involves public art and the reuse of land that will be open to development when the existing Arlington Bridge is torn down.

"What do Winnipeggers envision in terms of the themes for public art on the bridge? What kind of amenities do they want to see on top of the bridge as they walk through it?" asked Point Douglas Coun. Mike Pagtakhan, whose ward borders the CPR Winnipeg Yards.

Pagtakhan said the city wants to know whether housing or recreational amenities such as a skate-park or basketball courts ought to be prioritized for the land that will open up for redevelopment.

The councillor insisted the construction of the new bridge does not signal a lack of interest on the part of the city to relocate all or part of the CPR Winnipeg Yards. Manitoba's Progressive Conservative government cancelled a rail-relocation study launched by the former NDP government.

"The CPR railyards span a large part of the City of Winnipeg, so to say this bridge is the only bridge that's going to keep CPR from moving, I don't think you can really stretch that," Pagtakhan said.

City council was first told the Arlington Bridge was approaching the end of its useful life in 1967. Plans to replace it have been put off in favour of repairs ever since.

Even when the city obtains a design for a new Arlington Bridge, it must convince the province and Ottawa to help pay for the structure. The earliest construction could begin is 2020, said Burmey, adding the most optimistic timeline would place the completion of the project in 2023.

Burmey also said the Arlington Bridge and the Louise Bridge — built in 1911 — are inspected frequently to ensure they are structurally sound.

"We're actively inspecting these bridges and then responding with repairs as needed to prolong their lives as much as we can," he said.

Project design for Arlington Bridge is underway, but there is no funding in place

5 years ago
Duration 1:44
The city plans to build a new span over the CPR Winnipeg Yards immediately to the west of the existing Arlington Bridge. The project design is underway, but there is no funding in place.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.

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