Portage’s outdated overpass to be replaced
Portage MLA and Minister of Education and Training, Ian Wishart (left) and Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler (right) announced the replacement of the Hwy 1A bypass in Portage la Prairie Thursday afternoon. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)
The future of a low-hanging overpass in Portage la Prairie has finally been decided.
Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler announced in Portage la Prairie today that the Hwy 1A bypass on the west side of the city will be fully replaced with work beginning this year.
“What we want to be very clear on is that we are not going to renovate this bridge. We are not going to repair this bridge. It’s going to come down and we’re going to build a new structure,” Minister Schuler said Thursday afternoon, not far from the damaged structure. “It will be safer, it will be up to modern code, and more importantly, it’ll also be raised because there are a lot of loads that cannot go under that bridge.”
The bridge was built in 1968 and has been notorious for incidents over the past several years, with the latest coming this past November. A truck carrying oversized goods – which should never have been travelling the route to begin with – struck a portion of the bridge and caused extensive damage.
“We are a little frustrated because it is truckers from outside of province,” Schuler says of the culprits. “They have a route that’s set by our department, they are supposed to stick to it, but they keep ignoring that route and hitting the bridge.”
The province is in the initial stages of replacing the structure, first erected in 1968, which entails design work set to begin later this year. Currently, the route is used in only one direction, diverting some traffic through Portage la Prairie.
“The current limited use of the overpass is safe,” adds Schuler. “But it is time to look at replacing it to ensure the future safe and efficient movement of people and goods.”
The current structure needs to be raised at least four feet which made any potential renovations or remodels inconceivable. The new structure will be able to accommodate oversized loads however the project is very much in its infancy and therefore any timelines regarding work completion remain premature.
“I’m certainly very pleased that we’re moving forward on this, it’s probably the thickest file in my office,” says Portage MLA and Minister of Education and Training, Ian Wishart. “We want to make sure we get this problem solved as quick as possible and the minister is moving it forward in a very expedient way.”
Manitoba Infrastructure has pressed charges against the driver of the Nov. 2017 incident and seeks damage and demolition costs from the employer.