Plan to improve section of Route 90 clears hurdle at Winnipeg City Council

A $586-million plan to widen and improve a section of Route 90 has cleared a hurdle at city hall, though it still remains unclear how the upgrades will be paid for.

At a meeting Thursday, Winnipeg City Council voted 13-3 in favour of accepting the preliminary design and referring the project to next year’s investment planning process.

Couns. Cindy Gilroy, Matt Allard and Brian Mayes voted against the plan.

The project has three main components – refurbishing the St. James Bridge, adding a third lane to Kenaston Boulevard, and sewer and drainage improvements.

Mayor Scott Gillingham has said widening Kenaston Boulevard will have a positive environmental impact, as more lanes mean less idling and less time stuck in traffic.

However, widening the thoroughfare is just one aspect, noting the project needs to be done to accommodate a growing population.

“We can’t make light of or ignore the fact that it is a key trade and transportation route. It does serve as the primary north/south route for trade and truck transportation in our city, the west side of our city,” he said.

Allard thinks the money would be better spent investing in other modes of transport. He also doesn’t believe the project will net any environmental gains.

“It should be obvious to anyone that widening roads means more fossil fuel emissions, which is bad for climate change, but it’s also bad for traffic. The solution to traffic is not widening roads, which induces the demand for cars. It means more congestion, not less,” he said.

The public service is now tasked with exploring project delivery methods and possible funding sources.

The city expects 78 private properties, 50 Department of National Defence properties and 14 city-owned properties will be affected.

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