Motkaluk promises to replace 'decrepit' Louise Bridge right away, if elected

Jenny Motkaluk has promised to make replacing the aging Louise Bridge a Winnipeg infrastructure priority if she's elected mayor later this month.

Mayoral candidate says Louise Bridge would join Chief Peguis Trail extension atop her funding wish list

Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk says Brian Bowman is ignoring residents of Elmwood and East Kildonan, who use the Louise Bridge to get downtown. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

Jenny Motkaluk promises to make replacing the aging Louise Bridge a Winnipeg infrastructure priority if she's elected mayor later this month.

The business development consultant pledged Tuesday to add a new Louise Bridge to her proposed infrastructure-funding wish list, which also includes the western extension of Chief Peguis Trail from Main Street to Route 90.

Standing on the Elmwood side of the Red River, Motkaluk told reporters the Louise Bridge "is old, and I mean really old."

"It's rusty and it's decrepit and like our current mayor, it needs to be replaced," she said.

The Louise Bridge, originally built in 1881 and given a new span in 1910, connects Point Douglas to Elmwood. The city first earmarked the bridge for replacement in the 2009 capital budget, which described the structure as nearing the end of its useful life.

Replacement plan in the works

The most recent version of the city's Transportation Master Plan, completed in 2011, pegged the replacement of the Louise Bridge as a top city infrastructure priority. 

The plan, which is being revised, also said the replacement of the Arlington Bridge deserved similar consideration as the Waverley underpass, which is now under construction.

Brian Bowman said Tuesday during his term as mayor, Winnipeg has shifted away from funding projects based on political interests to more impartial analysis and an asset management plan.

Brian Bowman accused Jenny Motkaluk Tuesday of calling for a Louise Bridge replacement for political gain. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

"What we see from this candidate appears to be really moving back to the days when campaign commitments and promises are being made on partisan, political interests rather than through the measures, the cost-benefit points analysis that the city is now employing," he said.

Currently the fate of the bridge is tied to a forthcoming city decision about where the future East Transitway — a proposed bus corridor connecting downtown to Transcona — will cross the Red River.

The city is studying ways to integrate a new Louise Bridge into the plan. Motkaluk wants to scrap the whole thing.

"We have already announced that when I am mayor, we will not be building the eastern transit corridor and we're going to redirect those funds into a fully electrified fleet with 30 per cent more buses so more people get where they're going more often," said Motkaluk. 

Motkaluk's vision for a new Louise Bridge includes four lanes of vehicle traffic, a pedestrian sidewalk and room for bicycles but no special lane for bus traffic.

Labour-endorsed candidate's support

At the news conference, Elmwood-East Kildonan council candidate Jason Schreyer accompanied Motkaluk, arm in arm, to her podium and publicly supported her pledge along with her election bid.

Schreyer, who was endorsed by the Winnipeg Labour Council, said he already voted for Motkaluk in advance polls.

Elmwood-East Kildonan council candidate Jason Schreyer endorses mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk's pledge to replace the Louise Bridge. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

"I'm pleased to see that Jenny Motklaluk is on side with us her in our community," he said.

The city is years away from needing bus rapid transit, Schreyer said.

"Right now we have to deal with existing infrastructure."

Schreyer shares a number of campaign promises with Motkaluk. He wants to abandon future rapid transit plans in favour of adding more buses to Winnipeg Transit's fleet and keep Portage and Main closed to pedestrians. 

Motkaluk did not have an estimate Tuesday for the cost of replacing the Louise Bridge; however, she said in 2011, the replacement cost was pegged at $100 million and every year, costs rise.

Bowman said Motkaluk's campaign has made more than $1 billion in unfunded campaign promises in the leadup to the Oct. 24 election. 

Jenny Motkaluk pledges to replace the Louise Bridge

CBC News Manitoba

3 years ago
Mayoral candidate says Louise Bridge would join Chief Peguis Trail extension atop her funding wish list. 2:09


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