Winnipeggers are being asked to weigh in on a plan to better accommodate all forms of traffic on the Marion Street corridor, while finally reducing a long-standing vehicle bottleneck.
The city is now seeking input on a “Moving on Marion Street” project that is intended to improve traffic flow, road safety and livability through a broad area that includes Marion (from St. Mary’s Road to Lagimodière Boulevard) and Lagimodière (from Marion to Dugald Road).
In 2016, the city abandoned a $566 million proposal to widen Marion (between Lagimodière and Youville Street) and add a grade separation of Marion at the CPR Emerson rail line crossing, leading to further study and, eventually, the new proposal.
The new plan is expected to be far cheaper and achieve multiple goals, said Damir Muhurdarevic, the project lead for the city’s public works department.
“The previous plan with a grade separation at the railway tracks required a massive amount of properties to be acquired and would have a significant impact on the neighbourhood, including Happyland Park. The smaller-scale improvements that we are implementing now still do improve traffic flow at (the Marion/Archibald) intersection by adding additional northbound lanes on Archibald, by widening the intersection and introducing boulevards along both Archibald and Marion that will improve safety. And we are having virtually no impact on any of the properties at that intersection,” said Muhurdarevic.
Public feedback led the city to review a broader area and scale down the cost of the original plan, he noted.
“We are still looking to improve traffic flow… but the overall goal of this project is (also) to improve the safety along the corridor,” said Muhurdarevic.
The new proposal would add bike lanes and multi-use paths. It would also prepare some areas for possible future additions of permanent patio/commercial uses, pop-up parklets (sidewalk extensions that provide street space for people) or patios in the parking lane, though those features are not included in the current plan.
The original 2016 plan, which focused on reducing vehicle traffic congestion from the east limit of Marion to Goulet Street, would have required the city to acquire more than 140 properties. But it was cancelled following significant community backlash, over complaints it would be far too expensive and intrusive to the area. At the time, St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard said community members described it as “killing a fly with a sledgehammer.”
That led the city to start its latest study in 2019.
Muhurdarevic said the city doesn’t have a cost estimate for the new project but it would cost “much, much less” than the 2016 proposal and lead the city to buy out just 16 properties, along with portions of some others.
Traffic congestion should also be reduced, since the plan would add more dedicated turning lanes at three key intersections: Archibald and Marion; Marion and Panet Road; and Marion and Lagimodière.
To add capacity, an extra lane will also be added on Lagimodière between Dougald and Marion streets.
Coun. Janice Lukes, council’s public works chairwoman, said she’s still reviewing the full plan but believes that the overall focus is “greatly improved” from the previously cancelled mega-project.
“When I look at the last plan, it basically annihilated… a bunch of neighbourhoods and it didn’t take into consideration the whole picture … This isn’t as intense and it connects, I think, better,” said Lukes (Waverley West).
Winnipeggers will have several options to weigh in on the proposal until March 24. Information on how to participate in an online survey, visit an open house or email feedback is available at winnipeg.ca/movingonmarion.
A final version of the plan will be considered by council in the fall.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
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