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Public Works

A Better Bridge for Arlington

The century old Arlington Bridge is nearing the end of its useable life and must be replaced. The City of Winnipeg is working with technical experts and the public to design a new bridge that continues to connect our communities while also meeting modern accessibility standards, providing new and improved active transportation options and better accommodating traffic, including commuters, buses and other large vehicles. Winnipeg’s population is growing – forecasted to grow by approximately 200,000 people over the next 25 years – and a better bridge for Arlington will help make it easier for all of us to get around.


Background

For more than 100 years the Arlington Bridge has been an unmistakeable part of Winnipeg’s skyline. Officially opened on February 5, 1912, the bridge was built to connect two important neighbourhoods separated by the CP Rail Yards – and it’s still an important link for families across the city.

Today the bridge is nearing the end of its useable life and must be replaced. The City of Winnipeg (City) has been working with technical experts and the public to design a new bridge, which includes three different phases:

  • Functional Design (complete June 2016)
  • Preliminary Design (currently in progress)
  • Construction (timing and funding to be determined)

The Functional Design was a study to choose a location for a crossing of the CPR Yards between McPhillips Street and Salter Street. Since the existing bridge is situated at the widest portion of the CPR Yards and the bridge needs to be replaced, the study was conducted to confirm what location was best to have a crossing. The study concluded it was best to replace the Arlington Street Bridge in its current location. The study also defined functional items for the replacement such as number of lanes, accommodation of cyclists and pedestrians, etc.

The preliminary design seeks to build on the work done in the functional design but challenge the outcomes to ensure the City is proceeding in the best and most efficient way. A preliminary design is required to identify and address all major issues, determine the scope of work, and produce more accurate cost estimates so the project can proceed to detailed design and construction.

As part of designing the new bridge, the City has created a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) to hear ideas and concerns from community and business groups; area schools and health care providers; housing and active transportation advocates; and citizens like you.

The PAC and the public have provided, and will continue to provide, helpful input throughout each part of the process. For additional details, please click the "Engage" or "Project Advisory Committee" tabs above.

The functional design phase is now complete

Regular PAC meetings were held throughout the functional design phase with two community workshops, the first including a tour, held in December 2014 and March 2015. Public open houses were held in September 2015 and March 2016. Online and telephone surveys were also used to gather public input.

Engagement during functional design

A functional design report was produced in June 2016 using input from technical experts, the Project Advisory Committee and the public. The report set out the vision and goals for the project and made recommendations about the bridge placement and design.

Vision:
A safe, convenient and well situated crossing(s) that connects the north and south communities and supports social interaction, healthy lives, economic stability and growth and well managed traffic flow, with accessible and connected transportation options for all ages and abilities.

Goals:

  • To be technically sound
  • To be environmentally responsible
  • To be cost effective
  • To reflect needs of the local community as well as the city in general
  • To be generally understood and accepted by most of those affected

The functional design report reaffirms what we heard from the public – that the bridge at Arlington is a vital link that needs to be maintained. The report recommended that the bridge be designed with an additional lane to improve traffic flow and dedicated bike lanes and that, if possible, it be built alongside the existing bridge in order to minimize the time the bridge would need to be closed for construction.

To learn more about the functional design phase, including what we heard from the public, click here.

Preliminary design is now underway

Using the project goals and vision together with the recommendations and public input from the last phase, the City is moving forward with more detailed planning and design and will be working with the PAC and public once again to build a better bridge for Arlington that includes:

  • Easier walking and cycling – The existing bridge was built at an incline that makes it challenging for cyclists, people with mobility issues and parents pushing strollers to cross. The new bridge will be less steep and include protected pedestrian and cycling paths and wider sidewalks that accommodate wheelchairs and people with mobility issues, making it easier for everyone to use.
  • Better traffic flow – The bridge at Arlington is an important artery for many vehicles in our city. The new bridge will allow access to vehicles that do not use the existing bridge, such as commercial trucks. An additional lane of traffic will help make crossing the bridge faster and more convenient and the design process will look for further improvements that help traffic flow more smoothly.
  • More direct transit – Transit buses are not able to use the current bridge, which means all transit routes must cross at McPhillips or Salter. A new bridge for Arlington will be able to support transit buses – and that means more direct routes and faster transit times, especially at rush hour!
  • Improvements in the area – As part of the project, the protected bike lanes on Arlington will be connected with the current and proposed cycling network. There will also be improvements to roads, sidewalks, and intersections.
  • Better emergency response times – Like buses, emergency vehicles cannot use the current bridge. A new bridge for Arlington would mean improvements in response times by fire and paramedic services.
  • Other benefits – In addition to making the bridge at Arlington more functional, the design process will consider other benefits, such as incorporating art and community history as well as opportunities for future use or development of surplus land near the bridge.

Construction timing for the new bridge at Arlington is yet to be determined, and would only begin after detailed planning and design is complete, City Council has approved the project, and funds have been allocated for construction. Similar to other major infrastructure projects, the City would likely request that the provincial and federal governments partner to help fund the construction of the bridge. Construction will not start until the necessary funding commitments are secured.

Project Timeline

Arlington Bridge timeline

Timeline

Engage

The bridge at Arlington has connected the communities north and south of the rail yards for over 100 years, and continues to provide a vital connection as well as being an iconic part of Winnipeg’s skyline. That’s why the City of Winnipeg wants to hear what a better bridge means to you.

We will be continuing to gather community feedback throughout this phase of the project. Winnipeggers will have an opportunity to see how their feedback has been used in the design process so far, and provide their thoughts on the process and the design to be included in the project team’s final report.

The Project Advisory Committee will be engaged to help inform the project team’s work as they refine key design elements for the bridge. We will be presenting our progress and gathering public feedback online and at a public event, currently scheduled for Winter 2017/18.

Additional details and updates will be posted online throughout this phase of the project. If you would like to sign up to receive email updates, please email Arlington@winnipeg.ca or by phone 204-928-8691.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Why is a new bridge needed?

The Arlington Bridge over the CPR Yards is nearing the end of its useful life and fixing it is not possible. The bridge is severely deteriorated and is load restricted, which means that larger vehicles like commercial trucks and transit vehicles cannot use it. The existing bridge requires increasing maintenance and does not meet modern safety or accessibility standards, or allow for active transportation pathways. It’s time for a modern bridge that connects communities north and south of the bridge, while improving traffic flow for people across the city.

Why can’t the bridge be repurposed for another use?

The bridge is nearing the end of its useful life, and very few components of the bridge are still in usable condition. It is also not up to today’s design standards and isn’t accessible to everyone. Unlike some other bridges that have been repurposed as pedestrian and cycling routes, the current condition and configuration of the Arlington Bridge means it has to be replaced and cannot be used for that purpose.

Additionally, we know that many members of the communities near the bridge see it as a critical link to get around the city and want to see vehicles, as well as pedestrians and cyclists, able to cross the rail yards at Arlington and not at another location. A new bridge for Arlington will be accessible to everyone and include elements that support the culture and history of the community.

Where will a new bridge be located?

The new bridge will still be located at Arlington. Winnipeggers have made it clear through public feedback that the preferred option would be to build the new bridge alongside the existing one, in order to maintain a vital link in the community and to minimize the amount of time the bridge is closed during construction. The City hopes to do that and will confirm whether this is feasible through the preliminary design phase.

Why aren’t the rail yards being moved?

The CPR Yards is one of the busiest hubs in the rail network and it is a complicated and costly process to move it that requires consensus from a multitude of stakeholders. The Arlington bridge is at the end of its useable life and the City needs to move forward with the design of a new bridge now to maintain the vital connection between the communities north and south of the rail yards. The new bridge will be an important addition to the local community even if the rail yards are moved in the future, and building the bridge will not prevent future discussions about relocating the yards.

How long will it take to build the new bridge?

Following detailed design, and after Council approves the design and secures funding for the bridge, construction could begin. Depending on the final design, we expect that a new bridge will take approximately three years to build and would open in 2023, but this could change.

Building a bridge over the rail yards is a complex job. In order to complete this project by 2023 the City and project team are working with CPR to identify construction requirements and negotiate removal of some existing rail track and yard infrastructure that may be needed.

Will there be a bridge closure?

Once construction begins, we expect that the Arlington Bridge will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic over one summer construction season to complete the road tie-ins that are needed for the new structure. The City and project team will work to reduce or mitigate traffic impacts, wherever possible. Ideally, the new bridge would be built alongside the existing bridge in order to keep it open as long as possible – potentially for as much as 2/3 of the construction period.

The existing Arlington Bridge is scheduled to be closed in spring of 2023 and decommissioning will commence thereafter.

What kind of improvements will I see in the new bridge?
  • Easier walking and cycling – The existing bridge was built at an incline that makes it challenging for cyclists, people with mobility issues and parents pushing strollers to cross. The new bridge will be less steep, include protected pedestrian and cycling paths, and will include wider sidewalks that accommodate wheelchairs and people with mobility issues, making it easier for everyone to use.
  • Better traffic flow – The bridge at Arlington is an important artery for many vehicles in our city. The new bridge will allow access to vehicles that do not use the existing bridge, such as commercial trucks. An additional lane of traffic will help make crossing the bridge faster and more convenient and the design process will look for further improvements that help traffic flow more smoothly.
  • More direct transit – Transit buses are not able to use the current bridge, which means all transit routes must cross at McPhillips or Salter. A new bridge for Arlington will be able to support transit buses – and that means more direct routes and faster transit times, especially at rush hour!
  • Improvements in the area – As part of the project, the protected bike lanes on Arlington will be connected with the current and proposed cycling network. There will also be improvements to roads, sidewalks, and intersections.
  • Better emergency response times – Like buses, emergency vehicles cannot use the current bridge. A new bridge for Arlington would mean improvements in response times by fire and paramedic services.
  • Other benefits – In addition to making the bridge at Arlington more functional, the design process will consider other benefits, such as incorporating art and community history as well as opportunities for future use or development of surplus land near the bridge.
What will the bridge cost and how will it be paid for?

The current estimate for the cost of the bridge is $300 million. This estimate is consistent with the anticipated size and complexity of a bridge over a large, busy rail yard, but may change as the design process moves forward. City Council will need to approve the project and allocate funds for construction. Similar to other major infrastructure projects, the City would likely request that the provincial and federal governments partner to help fund the construction of the bridge. Construction will not start until the necessary funding commitments are secured.

Will there be environmental impacts from decommissioning the Arlington bridge or constructing a new bridge?

An environmental assessment will be undertaken during Preliminary Design to identify potential adverse impacts to the environment and the steps needed to address or mitigate them. 

Impacts to be considered during Preliminary Design will include noise, existing soil contamination at the construction site and possible adverse impacts to wildlife. 

Specific plans to address adverse impacts will be developed following assessment, as needed.  Plans could include the safe removal, treatment and disposal of any contaminants in accordance with environmental regulations, measures to minimize or eliminate effects on wildlife and/or the use of sound walls or the other absorptive materials to address noise.

Will there be opportunities to use surplus land after the new bridge is built?

After the bridge is constructed, there may be some parcels of land at the base of the bridge that are available for use or development. The project team will work with the Project Advisory Committee and community members to identify and further consider opportunities and ideas for the future use or development of the land. Ideas suggested during the last phase of the project included a skateboard park, farmers market, green space and multi-family housing.

How can I have my say on the future of the new Arlington Bridge?

The City has had numerous opportunities to interact with the public, from community workshops and tours, to face to face meetings. We’ve also established a Project Advisory Committee for the project. Learn more about the public input we received during the Functional Design phase.

We will be continuing to gather community feedback through the Project Advisory Committee to help inform the project team’s work as they refine key design elements for the bridge. We will also be presenting our progress and gathering public feedback online and at a public event, currently scheduled for early 2018. Winnipeggers will have an opportunity to see how their feedback has been used in the design process so far, and provide their thoughts on the process and the design to be included in the project team’s final report.

Winnipeggers can reach out to us with their thoughts at any time by contacting Arlington@winnipeg.ca or 204-928-8691.

Project Advisory Committee

The Project Advisory Committee was formed in 2014 and met regularly throughout the functional design phase to help develop the vision and goals for the project as well as provide input on how a new bridge for Arlington could help their communities thrive. They will continue to provide input on key design elements for the project during this phase.

Members of the committee include a broad range of experiences and perspectives, including:

Community residents and businesses, children and youth, seniors, indigenous people, cyclists, housing and renewal, newcomer Canadians, heritage, universal accessibility, and health care.

Last update: April 20, 2017