Manitoba

Waverley underpass funding announcement blasted by bullhorn

Thousands of Winnipeg drivers are likely breathing a sigh of relief as funding was announced Thursday to build a $155-million underpass at the railway crossing at Waverley Street and Taylor Avenue.

Feds, province, kicking in $92M to project, Winnipeg's share $63M

A government announcement to build a $155-million underpass on Waverley Street and Taylor Avenue in Winnipeg comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to prompt an early start to the fall's federal election. 2:17

Thousands of Winnipeg drivers are likely breathing a sigh of relief as funding was announced Thursday to build a $155-million underpass at the railway crossing at Waverley Street and Taylor Avenue. 

Robert Kury blasted an airhorn during a news conference to announce funding for an underpass on Waverley Street. (CBC)
But the news had one opponent blowing his horn in protest.

"It's a pleasure to announce federal support for a project I have advocated for since first day I took office," Winnipeg South Centre Conservative MP Joyce Bateman said.

Robert Kury pulled out a bullhorn during her speech, yelling, "This isn't about safety!"

The train crossing has long been the bane of drivers, who are often lined up waiting on one of the 40 trains that cross Waverley at that spot every day.

The city estimates 30,000 vehicles cross the tracks every day.

From left to right, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, Manitoba's Minister of Municipal Government Drew Caldwell, and Winnipeg South Centre MP Joyce Bateman announce that an underpass will be built at the rail crossing on Waverlely Street at Taylor Avenue to reduce congestion. (Jill Coubrough/CBC)
The federal and provincial governments are each contributing $45.9 million, while the city said its share is $63 million.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman thanked the federal and provincial governments for helping to move the project forward.

"We're grateful for your collaboration and for your commitment to funding this key infrastructure project that will have a significant impact for Winnipeggers," he said.

Earlier this year, River Heights–Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow said the design work for an underpass was done but the one thing holding back the start of construction was money.

On Thursday, Orlikow said it's been a "long road," but he's pleased the project is finally moving forward. 

Underpass will create 'horrendous' traffic

Kury said he believes the underpass will create problems for the neighbourhood.

Robert Kury had a chat with a Winnipeg police officer after interrupting the news conference to criticize plans to build an underpass at Waverley and Taylor. (CBC)
"Take a look to the north! What do you see? You see a residential area. Is that where you send 100,000 vehicles?" he exclaimed.

"Future traffic is going to be horrendous in this neighbourhood, and you take a look at all the schools in this neighbourhood, you take a look at all the playgrounds in this neighbourhood. There's a lot of children, there's a lot of seniors in this area."

Announcement comes on cusp of election call 

Officials said there was no timeline for construction or completion available. 

The announcement comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to prompt an early start to the fall's federal election.

Bateman's Liberal rival in Winnipeg South Centre, Jim Carr, said the announcement is part of the Conservatives' election strategy. 

"The federal government has taken nine long years to respond to the infrastructure needs of southwest Winnipeg by finally agreeing to cost-share the construction costs of the Waverley underpass," he said in a statement. 

"Unfortunately it took an election campaign for Stephen Harper, Joyce Bateman and the Conservative government to make an announcement that should have been made years ago." 

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story said the project would cost $130 million. That was based on information from city officials before the announcement. Today, officials said the federal and provincial governments will each contribute $45.9 million, with the city putting in $63 million, for a total of $155 million.
    Jul 30, 2015 12:03 PM CT

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