- Improve the corridor’s operating conditions by:
- Rehabilitating and reconfiguring the St. James Bridges to be safer, serve Winniepggers for 75 more years, and accommodate safe and efficient travel for pedestrians and cyclists
- Rehabilitating the roadway surface to address age-related deterioration and implement a consistent posted speed limit of 60 km/h
- Providing three through lanes in each direction to accommodate current and forecasted traffic volumes
- Provide pivotal connections for transit, pedestrians, and cyclists
- Three lanes of traffic in each direction
- Improvements to the St. James Bridge and Portage Avenue interchange
- Modifications at key intersections to improve traffic flow and crossing safety
- Improved safety features and new infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists
- Enhanced landscaping, greenspaces, and public art
What is the point of this study?
Route 90 is a vital transportation corridor through the City of Winnipeg, linking major residential, employment, and commercial areas in the southwest and northwest quadrants of the city. The corridor needs to be upgraded to address current and future traffic volumes, new development and future redevelopment, and the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.
The City previously examined improving Route 90 as part of the 2012 Transportation Planning Study, which determined the preferred alignment for the corridor. This project was designed to build on the recommendations of that study, which included widening Route 90 between Taylor Avenue and Ness Avenue. That said, the objectives of this study go well beyond just making the width of the street consistent.
The Route 90 Improvements Study was designed to ensure the corridor maintains an adequate level of service for Winnipeggers. Its objectives were informed by Council direction and are to:
Separate combined sewers to decrease sewer overflows, reduce basement flooding risk, and improve water quality
What has changed since 2012?
Since 2012, traffic volumes have continued to increase along the corridor and significant commercial and residential development has taken place north and south of the route as well as along it. In addition, the condition of roadways, bridges, water mains and updated requirements concerning design standards, accessibility, transit and City policies will need to be considered as part of the new design.
What would an improved Route 90 look like?
The proposed design for an improved Route 90 features:
While much of the study has focused on improving traffic flow, we’ve heard it’s important to also consider the area’s character. Amenities like landscaping, greenspaces and public art can provide shelter and shade, reduce traffic noise, and add visual interest. They can also maintain the curb appeal of residential properties lining the roadway.
- This threshold has been reached and far exceeded, with current weekday traffic volumes at 79,000 per day on the St. James Bridges and more than 40,000 per day on Route 90 between Taylor Avenue and Ness Avenue.
- In 2017 the northbound corridor travel time was eight minutes in the morning peak and 7.2 minutes in the afternoon peak. The southbound travel time was seven minutes in the morning peak and eight minutes in the afternoon peak.
- If conditions remain the same, by 2041 these times are projected to jump to nearly 14 min (morning) and 10.7 min (afternoon) for northbound traffic and 8.5 min in the morning and 10.8 min in the afternoon for southbound traffic.
- We anticipate the proposed design would result in a 2041 northbound travel time of 8.7 minutes in the morning peak and 9.2 minutes in the afternoon peak. Southbound travel is projected to be 7.4 min in the morning peak and 8.2 min in the afternoon peak.
- Policy #3.1 - Increase Use and Efficiency of Public Transit Systems
- New transit stops will accommodate articulating buses and enhance connections for riders.
- Policy #3.4 - Increase Active Transportation Rates
- New active transportation paths will fill gaps in the pedestrian and cycling network, and support sustainable transportation options.
- Policy #3.5 - Reduce Traffic Congestion
- Three through lanes, synchronizing traffic signals, and efficient intersection design will reduce congestion and stop-and-go traffic.
- Policy #6.1 - Reduce Consumption and Increase Waste Diversion
- A new sewer system will accommodate rainfall and snowmelt from the entire project area and potentially from the future Naawi-Oodena development. This will decrease sewer overflows into the river.
What will expanding Route 90 to three lanes do for the corridor?
Route 90 is currently three lanes in each direction both north and south of the study area, but only two lanes in the study area. When planning the road network, we generally consider providing six lanes (three in each direction) once daily traffic volumes reach 35,000 vehicles per day on a given street.
These numbers result in bottlenecks and traffic delays, which in turn cause more idling and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Ensuring Route 90 is a consistent three lanes in each direction would help accommodate current and future traffic volumes, greatly improve traffic flow, and reduce idling. An overall reduction in idling would as a byproduct support the goal of reducing GHGs set out in the City’s Climate Action plan.
Why do the St. James Bridges need rehabilitation and reconfiguring?
The southbound St. James Bridge was completed in 1935 and is nearing the end of its life. The northbound bridge was completed in 1962 and is deteriorating.
Additionally, the traffic movements required to merge from either eastbound Route 90 to southbound Route 90 and Academy Road or westbound Academy to northbound Route 90 involve weaving through lanes of traffic. This creates unsafe conditions. Collision data shows 81 collisions happened on and directly adjacent to the bridge between 2012 and 2016.
The bridges require rehabilitation to last another 75 years. Improving safety requires them to be reconfigured.
Why is separating combined sewers a priority?
Combined sewers collect both land drainage (rainwater and snowmelt) and wastewater (sewage) in the same pipe. During heavy rainfall or snowmelt, the additional volume can exceed the capacity of the sewer. This additional volume overflows into the river without reaching the wastewater treatment plant. Separate sewers collect land drainage and wastewater in different pipes. Route 90 currently has these combined sewers. Upgrading the system to separate sewers would reduce wastewater overflows into the river, basement flooding, and the burden on our wastewater treatment plants.
How does the proposed design consider neighbourhood connectivity?
The study is looking at how best to connect people to neighbourhoods, whether the people are driving a car, moving goods, walking, or biking. The proposed design includes safer crossings, safer connections to transit stops, and additional elements to improve comfort.
How does the proposed design consider sustainability?
The project aligns with the following policies from Winnipeg's Climate Action Plan:
What happened to the westerly alignment some Winnipeggers asked for in Phase 2 engagement?
We know some of the community was hoping for a westerly alignment as the project moved forward. We are proceeding with only the easterly alignment as a proposed design. The westerly alignment would have required the Manitoba Youth Centre land. While we did initiate discussions with the Province of Manitoba in 2018 about purchasing the land, we were recently informed the centre will not close and therefore the land will not be available to us. We are now proceeding with proposing only the easterly alignment.
Construction and Project Costs
How much will it cost?
We currently estimate construction would cost in the area of $550M but are working on a Class 3 estimate as part of this phase of design. A Class 3 cost estimate (accuracy of +/- 20 to 30%) is required for Council consideration and potential funding. There is currently no identified funding for construction.
Why is the estimated cost different than in both 2009 and 2018?
In alignment recommended in the 2009 citywide Transportation Planning Study was developed with a Class 4 estimate (accuracy -30% to +60%) of $129 million. That study was limited to evaluating roadway alignment alternatives and recommending a preferred alignment. This study builds on the recommended alignment and looks at the bigger picture of the Route 90 corridor and what Winnipeggers need from it.
During Phase 2 engagement we presented a Class 5 estimate of $450 million for a project scope that included additional featured as well as changes to the St. James Bridges. A Class 3 estimate (accuracy -20% to +30%) will be prepared as part of the preliminary design to account for the full project scope including the extensive changes to the St. James Bridges. This rough estimate was used to assess initial viability and for long-range planning.
The more detailed design we are presenting in Phase 3 allows a more accurate cost estimate, which is required for Council consideration and potential funding. It’s also important to note the economic changes from 2018 to 2023 and the rising cost of goods and services.
When will the Route 90 improvements be constructed?
The project has not yet received Council approval and there is currently no identified funding for construction. Following Phase 3 engagement on the proposed design, the project team will recommend a design for Council’s consideration. It is then up to Council to decide whether to approve the project and identify a funding source.
Would Route 90 be closed during construction?
We are developing preliminary construction staging plans as part of this study, but it is important to remember we cannot make any concrete plans as the project is not yet Council-approved and construction remains unfunded. While final plans would be determined if and when these things occur, we can say maintaining pedestrian access to all properties and least two lanes of traffic in each direction would be a priority.
- There are currently no active transportation paths on this portion of Route 90. The Council-approved Pedestrian and Cycling Strategies identifies this gap as a priority.
- Traffic congestion and delays make it difficult to provide fast and reliable transit service on this portion of Route 90. The Council-approved Winnipeg Transit Master Plan long-term network plan prioritizes a “frequent line” on Route 90. Frequent lines will run the length of a major corridor to help people travel across the city with buses arriving at stops at least every 10-15 minutes.
Would pedestrians, cyclists and transit be able to use the route?
The proposed design includes dedicated multiuse paths on each side of Route 90. The paths would provide a connect to surrounding neighbourhoods, the larger active transportation network, and major recreational sites like Fort Whyte Alive and Assiniboine Park. Half-signals at regular intervals along the corridor would provide users a safe way to cross Route 90. Proposed transit improvements include transit priority signals, improved bus stop platforms, and passenger shelters.
Why do you need to improve opportunities for transit, pedestrians, and cyclists?
We are committed to providing safe, efficient, and barrier-free mobility options for Winnipeggers of all ages and abilities using the travel mode of their choice.
Improvements to the corridor are required to accommodate these modes and make travel efficient and accessible for all.
Is there a pedestrian bridge over Route 90 planned at Lockston Avenue?
Not in the current proposed design. While earlier designs included a bridge at Lockston, further study determined a bridge at this location is not the best option. We evaluated the different crossing types and determined that an at-grade (street-level) crossing would be easiest to use, safest, and most cost-effective. That said, we continue to study the feasibility of all options.
Will my property be affected?
We must balance the wants and needs of residents and the need to increase capacity and usability of the corridor. The proposed design requires land that could not be accommodated within existing City-owned property. That said, it is important to remember this design has not yet been considered by Council and construction remains unfunded. If/when we were to proceed to construction, we would have to purchase some private properties. We have reached out directly to those whose properties would be affected by the proposed design.
When will the City begin acquiring properties for this project?
Property acquisition or negotiations would not begin until such a time as the design is approved by Council and funding allocated for construction. We will be refining the proposed design based on what we hear in Phase 3 engagement, then presenting a recommended design to Council for consideration.
How much money will I get for my property? Can I negotiate the value?
If we were to require your property, you would receive an offer based on current market value. Negotiations are part of most purchases and expropriations. For more information, visit our commonly asked questions and answers about the City acquisition and expropriation process.
What is going to happen with the Kapyong lands?
Naawi-Oodena, the former Kapyong lands, are located between Grant Avenue and the CN main line on both the east and west sides of Route 90. The project team has been working with Rights holders to ensure the proposed design takes into consideration future development and land use in this area.
Why were certain houses in the study area acquired by the City and others were not?
The City has not actively acquired any homes as a direct result of this project. We were approached by some property owners wanting to sell and have purchased other properties publicly marketed for sale. Due to subsequent budgetary constraints, the City has been unable to acquire any additional homes during the past few years.
Why did the City demolish houses that were acquired along the route?
The majority of the homes we purchased are managed by the Winnipeg Housing and Rehabilitation Corporation and rented to third parties. Several were in poor condition at the time of sale and were uneconomical to maintain and rent. As a result, we demolished a few homes within the study area.
What is going to happen with the Kapyong lands?
Naawi-Oodena, the former Kapyong lands, are located between Grant Avenue and the CN main line on both the east and west sides of Route 90. The project team has been working with Rightsholders to ensure the proposed design takes into consideration future development and land use in this area.
How would the proposed design improve traffic flow?
The proposed design includes changes to signal timings and adding lanes at intersections to improve traffic flow. We are also proposing to close a number of non-signalized intersections on Route 90 between Willow Avenue and the Assiniboine River due to limited visibility, difficulty in making a left turn during peak periods, safety concerns, and considerations around connecting local streets and lanes to a major roadway.
Would making Route 90 three lanes consistently throughout really improve traffic flow or could it lead to more congestion?
Our forecasting model predicts traffic on Route 90 will increase with or without the additional lanes. Eliminating the bottleneck between Taylor Avenue and Ness Avenue would allow more traffic to pass more freely. Providing six lanes along with improved transit stops and active transportation pathways is a practical balance to accommodate current and forecasted traffic volumes. Traffic currently short-cutting on residential side streets would likely return to Route 90 after the road is widened, but this is a small percentage of total traffic on the route.
What will be the speed limit on Route 90 after the improvements?
The posted speed limit on Route 90 is expected to be 60 km/h from Taylor Avenue to Ness Avenue.
Would removing trucks from Route 90 solve congestion problems?
Based on 2017 traffic counts on the St. James bridges, trucks accounted for just four percent of current daily traffic on Route 90. This corresponds to about 3,000 trucks per day. The majority of existing congestion is caused by the high volume of total traffic along the corridor. Removing trucks would not be enough to solve congestion along the corridor.
Additionally, it’s important to note Route 90 is an important economic transportation route and accommodates local, regional, national and international truck traffic. It is currently designated as a truck route and is included in the draft updated trucking map presented in Phase 2 engagement on Transportation Master Plan 2050. Improving the movement of goods along Route 90 will be important to the design and overall success of the corridor.
Will the design allow for commercial trucks?
The design of an improved Route 90 will include commercial trucks. Route 90 is an important economic transportation route and accommodates local, regional, national and international truck traffic. Route 90 is also part of the strategic goods movement network in the City's Transportation Master Plan. Improving the movement of goods along Route 90 will be important to the design and overall success of the corridor.
How would the City mitigate noise impacts from a widened Route 90?
A recent noise study recommended locations for sound attenuation along Route 90 based on expected noise levels and the roadway alignment. Sound attenuation will include landscaped berms, fences, and other methods to address noise impacts resulting from the widened road. For more details, please see the proposed preliminary design.
Has there been previous public engagement for Route 90?
The 2012 Transportation Planning Study included two phases of engagement that consisted of stakeholder interviews, resident/business meetings, open houses, and scientific surveys. More information can be found on the 2012 Transportation Planning Study website. The ongoing Route 90 Improvement Study has consisted of three phases of engagement that began in Spring 2018.