Sunday, January 31, 2016

Winnipeg's Waverley Street Underpass Is A Go - Oh, Oh

Soon to be a thing of the past?
Despite opposition from councillor Russ Wyatt and others, Winnipeg's city council voted 13-3 to proceed with the Waverley Street Underpass project.

Currently, Waverley Street has a grade crossing with the busy two-track CN Rivers subdivision. The Waverley Underpass project page says about 30,000 vehicles use the crossing daily, with 35-40 daily train movements through the crossing. Personally I think that number (of train movements) is low.

The intent of the project is to replace the grade crossing with an underpass (road under the tracks) and widen nearby Taylor Avenue to four lanes west of Waverley, and make some modifications to intersections to increase capacity.

CN blocking the Waverley Street crossing

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $155 million, with a margin of error of -20% to +30%, meaning it could reach $200 million. The money for this project would come from all three levels of government, as well as an unspecified contribution from CN. They are requesting $45.875 million from the province and the federal government, and the city expects to pay $63 million.

I think it's interesting that there are two rather large sole-source contracts specified:
  • Manitoba Hydro, up to $13 million plus over expenditures at the discretion of the Chief Administrative Officer
  • Dillon Consulting Ltd., up to $12.3 million plus over expenditures at the discretion of the Chief Administrative Officer
Dillon Consulting won the $1.012 preliminary design contract back in April 2014.

This is how it looks currently. Waverley runs north-south through the centre of the map.
Waverley and area - current
There are existing underpasses at left/west on Kenaston / highway 90 and at right/east on Pembina / highway 42.

One of the controversial aspects of this project is that Waverley is not a major road north of the CN tracks. Part of the project is to widen Taylor Avenue west of Waverley to make it 4 lanes all the way, and to improve Waverley north to Grant Avenue and improve the Waverley-Grant intersection to improve capacity.

This is the work that is proposed to be done:
Waverley and area - proposed
Personally I am concerned about the large cost of this project and the potential for higher costs. The Plessis Road underpass project, nearing completion, has grown from the initial $77 million budget to $87.5 million so far (13.6% over budget) and is a year late.

Given that a detailed design has not been completed, and this project seems to be on a rush schedule, I think the chances of the cost increasing above the forecast $155 million are high.

Given that the city's revenue is just about $1 billion/year, and our city debt is about $1 billion (having doubled in the last five years), I don't see how we can take this on, as well as the stage 2 rapid transitway. We need to rein in the spending... and maybe spend it to help divert all the raw sewage we are discharging into rivers.

But that's just my opinion.

More information:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well if the city had decided against BRT and purchased those RDCs that are being scrapped they could uses the CN line running in parallel with Pembina hwy and have the beginning of a real rapid transit system. Then we get into the stupid idea of wholesale track removal, which will completely kill a rapid transit system for Winnipeg. I avoid Winnipeg when I can...

Brian May