The main street in the south central Manitoba community of Portage la Prairie is in the midst of a major upgrade.
The federal government and the Province of Manitoba are partnering with the city of 13,000, which is located 75 kilometres west of Winnipeg on the Trans-Canada Highway through the Canada Infrastructure Program in an investment of approximately $40 million.
The intent is to bring a 1.5 kilometre section of Saskatchewan Avenue West from 8th Street W. to Elm Street to modern standards, reports Jocelyn Lequier-Jobin, Portage La Prairie’s director of operations.
Phase one of the project, she notes, began in the fall of 2021 with the relocation of new utility infrastructure, including replacement of the water and wastewater and land drainage piping. to the gravel shoulders along the avenue between 4th Street West and Elm Street, which was expected to be completed later this year.
Phase two, currently underway, will involve rebuilding Saskatchewan Avenue West, including the paved avenue, sidewalks, bike paths, green space, parking spaces and enhanced land drainage. Replacement of four of five land drainage outfalls to Crescent Lake have been completed, with the final outfall on 20th St. SW to be replaced later this year.
Also completed are the concrete curbs on the north between 4th St. W and 7th as well as the sidewalks and median curbs.
Concrete work on the south side and asphalt milling and replacement are currently underway while road, sidewalk and bike lane construction for the portion from 7th St. W to 20th St. W are scheduled for this summer and fall.
“The biggest challenge we have had,” says Lequier-Jobin, “has been getting the work done with minimal disruption to the businesses in the area.”
For the convenience of motorists, she adds, the repaving work was staggered so that two lanes are open to traffic at any given time.
She notes three different styles of bike path are being installed to suit different portions of the street. The first section will have dedicated lanes for bikes which are separated by concrete barriers.
For the second part, the bike path is being raised to the sidewalk level.
The final section will have two-way asphalt lanes.
The city is also introducing silva cell technology for the landscaping portion of the project.
The modular suspended pavement system uses soil volumes to support large tree growth and provide storm water management.
The maintenance-free system has an estimated design life of approximately 100 years.
Lequier-Jobin reports two principal contractors have been designated for the project.
E.F. Moon Construction, based in Portage la Prairie, was assigned the water and sewer infrastructure work while Maple Leaf Construction has been chosen to do the paving.
The remainder of the work is scheduled to be completed next year.