The rebuild of Highway 75 south of Ste. Agathe is expected to begin shortly.
Last summer, Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk announced plans for the southbound lanes of Highway 75 to be rebuilt from Ste. Agathe to Morris. Work will include 27.7 kilometres of surface reconstruction, as well as shoulder, drainage and intersection improvements. The surface will be reconstructed using concrete pavement.
Piwniuk says the existing pavement from Provincial Road (PR) 205 to PR 305 was constructed in 1988, while the existing pavement from Highway 23 to PR 205 was done three years later. He notes despite ongoing maintenance, the pavement has now deteriorated to the point where full reconstruction is required.
The work is being tendered as two separate projects, happening simultaneously. One of those projects includes reconstructing the southbound lanes from PR 205 to Highway 23 at an estimated cost of $29 million. The other project includes reconstructing the southbound lanes from PR 205 to PR 305, at an estimated cost of $32.8 million.
Piwniuk says the province has yet to announce the winning tenders. However, work could begin as early as mid-May on getting the necessary detours in place in order to redirect all traffic to the northbound lanes. This includes preparing approaches to bring motorists from the southbound to the northbound lanes.
Then, in June is when the actual rebuild is expected to start. Piwniuk says the base and shoulder work should start that month, and they will also jackhammer the old concrete. He notes the pouring of concrete is expected to start in late July and early August. Piwniuk anticipates the last of the concrete to be poured by the end of September and for the southbound lanes to reopen before the end of October.
Piwniuk says it is his expectation that the entire stretch of southbound Highway 75 from Ste. Agathe to Morris will be closed for the entire time of the rebuild and that they will not reopen sections as they are completed. And, because it will be two-way traffic using the northbound lanes, Piwniuk says traffic will most likely be slowed to 80 kilometres per hour in both directions.
"I always say, short-term pain for long-term gain," says Piwniuk.
He adds motorists can feel confident that this rebuild will not need to happen again in 15 or 20 years. According to Piwniuk, there are national standards that must be met for Highway 75, noting there are requirements when it comes to the aggregate underneath and ensuring there are no shortcuts taken during the construction process.
Having said that, Piwniuk points out that one reason why highways south of the border are often in better shape than in Canada is that the U.S. federal government invests more money into its interstates than does Canada.
"Next to nothing gets put into Highway 75 from the federal government," he adds.
Piwniuk says Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson is working with other premiers to ensure our federal government commits more money to infrastructure.
"That's an investment for Canada and that's an investment for our trading and commerce grids, our trade corridors and it's also for supply chains," adds Piwniuk.