The week after my last post on the 8th Street Bridge, there was a new provincial budget presented in Winnipeg by the governing NDP. One of the points, and few mentions of Brandon, was the “redevelopment” of the Daly Overpass. A few days later, local columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press Deveryn Ross tweeted the following:
Does #bdnmb need a new 8th St bridge for vehicles (and millions in new debt) if Daly bridge is expanded to 4 lanes?
— Deveryn Ross (@deverynross) November 15, 2013
Shortly followed up by:
@mynameisblar At the very most, a couple of hours each day. There are other, less-expensive ways to deal with the “congestion”.
— Deveryn Ross (@deverynross) November 15, 2013
Yes, I have to agree on both points. I’ve already made my case for not replacing the 8th Street Bridge with a new traffic bridge, but I also have some reservations about “redeveloping” the Daly Overpass.
For those not immediately aware, the Daly Overpass is that bridge over the train tracks on 18th Street at Pacific Avenue. It is two lanes headed south, but it reduces to one lane over the bridge headed north. During high use times, the congestion exists as far back as Victoria Avenue and is quickly becoming a sore spot in the city.
Now many people have suggested that the overpass needs to be expanded to 4 lanes, which would rectify the situation for a number of years. However, it is my contention that there are a few facts being ignored in this approach. The first is the actual bridge itself. I do remember the bridge being expanded once already in the very early 1990s. It was made wider and the sidewalk was widened and separated from the roadway by Jersey barriers. For this reason it seems to me that the bridge could not be “expanded” again, because the current bridge supports probably could not support the load. The only option would be to twin the bridge, moving one existing lane and a new lane onto a new bridge. I assume the “duck plant” building would be razed for this new bridge.
I think that Deveryn Ross’ suggestion of less expensive ways may hold some water. If not less expensive, at least something that allows for future growth and actually pays attention to what is the underlying problem of why there is so much traffic on 18th Street.
If you look at a map of Brandon, it becomes evident that the three main ways over the CP tracks all are within a one mile stretch. You can get over the tracks at 26th Street, but it is a level crossing so most people make it their last choice; plus you have to slow down and turn at McDonald Ave which is not built as a main arterial street. So you have 1st, 8th, and 18th Streets which all have a bridge over the tracks; no stopping for a train. After 18th you have 26th which has the aforementioned problems, and then you have…
Yes, the next spot that you can get over the tracks (well, under) is Kemnay, almost 6 miles west of the city.
And that is your problem. Everyone from about 12th Street and west wants to go over the tracks at 18th street, converging on a single lane at the Daly Overpass. No wonder the thing gets backed up.
My solution, and I’ve been saying this for years now on other venues, is that we have to build a faster route west of 18th Street for people to get to the north end of the city. At the very least we have to make it faster. There seem to be two possibilities.
First option, extend 26th Street to curve over to Hilton Ave near the water treatment plant.
Now, this doesn’t immediately alleviate the problem with the level crossing at the CP main line on 26th Street, but it does speed up the trip from 26th to 18th enough that more people would most likely use the route. If we ever got an underpass or overpass at the tracks it would be a much more effective way to move traffic to the west of the city than over the Daly Overpass.
Second option, extend 34th street over the tracks and past the parking lot at the Wheat City Golf Course, then over the river to Grand Valley Road.
A couple of buildings would be razed, but it would work and you would have an express route from the west end to the Corral Centre shopping area. I’ve heard it said that there isn’t a viable route there, but I think there is. The only concern would be the fact of having to build the roadway up to a height and strength to withstand the flooding that we know happens to the area. It would probably be more expensive than a Daly Overpass “redevelopment”, but in the long run would most likely be a more effective transportation network.
It seems to me that we have trouble identifying what the real issue with traffic is in our small city, and therefore do not look for the right solutions. It just does not make sense to “fix” a road that has too much traffic on it rather than finding a way to get the extra traffic off of it.
We need to work the root of the problem and not just treat the symptoms.
*images courtesy of Google Earth.