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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.


Updates

The City is working with community partners and the public to build a better bridge for Arlington.

Your voice is important. Throughout September you can share your views either in person or online. If you live, work or go to school near the bridge, or use the bridge during your commute, we want to hear from you.

New! Check out a video simulation of roadway, traffic and active transportation improvements proposed for the new bridge.

Improvements

Arlington bridge cross section

Thanks to community input, some important decisions about a new bridge for Arlington have already been made. A new bridge will have a number of major improvements, such as:

easier walking

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.

more direct transit

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 to help improve transit times, especially at rush hour.

better traffic flow

Better traffic flow – The new bridge will allow access to vehicles that do not use the existing bridge, such as commercial trucks. An additional traffic lane will help make crossing the bridge faster and more convenient, and the design process will look for further improvements to help traffic flow more smoothly.

better emergency access

Better emergency access – Buses and emergency vehicles cannot use the current bridge. A new bridge for Arlington will allow fire and paramedic services to travel directly over the bridge when providing services and responding to emergencies.

local improvements

Local improvements – 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.

other benefits

Other benefits – A new bridge will help beautify the neighbourhood through the addition of new public art, and will create opportunities for future use or development of surplus land near the bridge.

Project Timeline

The new bridge is currently slated for completion in 2023 although specific timing for construction of a new bridge at Arlington is yet to be determined. Construction would begin only after detailed planning and design is complete, City Council has approved a final design 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.

Arlington Bridge timeline
Winter/spring 2017 early technical evaluation and review, preliminary design begins; Spring/fall 2017 assessing, evaluating and refining design; Ongoing meetings with project advisory committee; Ongoing online engagement; Information session winter 2017/18; Early 2018 reporting and recommendations, preliminary design ends; Council review and funding, timing to be determined; Construction, timing to be determined; Decommissioning 2023.

Timeline

Engage in Person

Thank you to everyone who took the time to come out to one of our events through the month of September 2017. We connected with hundreds of Winnipeggers to get their input on some important questions:

  • Are there certain features or improvements (rest stops, lookouts, for example) that you’d like to see?
  • How should open land at the foot of the bridge be used?
  • What could be done with the land that would help meet a local need?
  • Are there ways the bridge could create welcome people to the North End, or help make our communities feel more connected?
  • Public art will be a part of the new bridge. What stories--and whose stories--do we need to tell through public art?

Please check back on this site for more information on our next public event happening later this fall.

Participants in the engagement process will have a chance to see how their feedback was considered within a public engagement report that will be shared on this project site in early 2018.

THANK YOU to all community members that came out and shared their input at the recent Grill n' Chill event at the Freight House on September 6.

Engage Online

Thank you to everyone who filled out our online survey that was available from August 30 – September 30, 2017. Over 500 submissions were received. We are currently reviewing the feedback. A public engagement report on how feedback was considered in the project design will be available on this project site in early 2018.

Project Advisory Committee

A Project Advisory Committee (PAC) is helping ensure that local perspectives are clearly heard at all stages of this important project. Members of the committee represent a broad range of views, including community residents and businesses, children and youth, seniors, Indigenous peoples, cyclists, newcomer Canadians, people living with disabilities, as well as organizations that help support area needs.

The Project Advisory Committee has been meeting since 2014 and met regularly throughout earlier design phases 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.

PAC members are committed community partners, having spent hundreds of hours on the project to date. PAC members will continue to work with the City to provide important input as planning for a better bridge for Arlington moves forward.  

What does the Arlington Bridge mean to you?

Current representatives include:

Ken Shachtay
Access Advisory Committee, City of Winnipeg

Growing up I used the Arlington Bridge. Now, in a wheelchair, I use it too. I want to make it easier than it is now to get over 57 sets of tracks. I want to make it inclusive of any type of disability. 

Mark Cohoe
Bike Winnipeg

The Arlington Bridge means providing a safe, comfortable and convenient way to bike across the tracks that will encourage more people to ride their bikes.

Gord Dong
Centennial Community Improvement Association

Wayne Wyke
Dufferin School

The Arlington bridge means providing access for everyone and connecting communities on both sides of the bridge.

Carole Frechette
Indigenous Relations Division, City of Winnipeg

The Arlington Bridge is an important connection between Winnipeg communities and an important part of our history.

Ken Kollinger
Health Sciences Centre/Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

If done right the new Arlington bridge will help us move closer to one another and learn from one another - bridging to better understanding! Born and raised in the North End, I understand the value and the opportunity this project holds to foster connectedness and instill delight.

Aaron Benarroch
King Edward Community School

A bridge will structurally and symbolically connect people to enhance social and commercial interactions in this area of our city and benefit the citizens of Winnipeg. Currently the Arlington bridge is more of a barrier than a connector and it’s time to reduce those barriers. Better bus routes, easier pedestrian and cycling access will significantly enhance access for the community and city to nearby points of interest.

Dustyne Lefurgey
Ndinawe

The Arlington Bridge means connecting our past to a brighter future.

Richard Gilbert
North End Community Renewal Corporation

The Arlington Bridge means connections—bridging the north with the south and creating one city where all are welcome.

Mike Pagtakhan
Point Douglas Ward Councillor, City of Winnipeg

The Arlington Bridge means keeping Winnipeg together.

Phil Chiappetta
Rossbrook House

The Arlington Bridge means bridging the divide and creating a new friendship, north and south.

Pam McConnell
Transportation Options Network for Seniors

Tricia Wasney
Winnipeg Arts Council

The Arlington Bridge means a chance to tell the stories of the community through art.

The City and our community partners are committed to listening to all perspectives. We’ve worked together to identify other organizations or groups that are not directly represented on the committee but may nevertheless be impacted by the project and have helpful perspective or insights to share, including community indigenous, business and resident groups. We will be reaching out to these groups directly or through public engagement activities planned for this fall.

If you have suggestions for organizations or groups that we should be contacting please get in touch! You can reach us at Arlington@winnipeg.ca or by phone at 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 and providing necessary traffic access during future street construction in the area.

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

Unlike some other bridges that have been repurposed as pedestrian and cycling routes, the current condition, location and configuration of the Arlington Bridge means it has to be replaced and cannot be used for that purpose.

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. 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. We also know the new bridge will provide necessary traffic access during future construction of McPhillips Street. A new bridge for Arlington will help address these needs, 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.

How many driving lanes will be included on the new Arlington Bridge?
Arlington bridge cross-section

Currently the bridge has two driving lanes and many weight restrictions because of its condition. That means vehicles such as trucks, emergency vehicles and buses can’t use the bridge at all.

The new bridge will have 2 lanes northbound and 1 lane south bound with cycling facilities and sidewalks on both the east and west sides of the bridge to help make crossing the bridge faster and more convenient. The addition of a third lane addresses current traffic needs, but in the future, the bridge can be expanded to four lanes if traffic volumes require it.

The new bridge will also mean Dufferin Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic at Arlington. Final design may include an active transportation tunnel that cyclists and pedestrians can use to travel under the new bridge at Dufferin. Check out a video simulation of roadway, traffic and active transportation improvements proposed for the new bridge here.

Will buses be able to use the new bridge?

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!

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 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 to help improve 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 access– Buses and emergency vehicles cannot use the current bridge. A new bridge for Arlington will allow fire and paramedic services to travel directly over the bridge when providing services and responding to emergencies.
  • 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.

How will properties around the bridge be impacted as a result of the new bridge?

As part of the preliminary design process, the City is determining all property impacts. This process is slated to be complete in early 2018. Once complete Council approval and funding for a new bridge would then be required to move forward with next steps, which would include acquiring property, detailed bridge design and construction.

The very earliest the City would start acquiring property would be Fall 2019, and it could be later. Acquiring properties can take over a year, and as part of that process, the City will contact property owners who may be affected by the new bridge directly.

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 are continuing to gather input this fall on a Better Bridge for Arlington. Find out how to get involved in person or online.

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 Better Bridge for Arlington – engagement during functional design: Community workshops and bus tour: Dialogue with community organizations; Interactive website (6000+ views); Virtual open houses (133 responses); Online questionnaires (110 responses); Interactive maps (2000+ interactions); Open houses in september 2015 and march 2016 (200+ attendees); Telephone survey (400 responses); 8 project advisory committee meetings.

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.

Related project links

For inquiries, or to request online materials in an alternate format, please contact 204-928-8691 or Arlington@winnipeg.ca.

Last update: June 27, 2017