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Wab Kinew says he's considering moving rail lines that divide Winnipeg

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View of Winnipeg rail yards from the Arlington Bridge.

Radio-Canada

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Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew says he wants to look into the possibility of gradually relocating the rail lines that divide Winnipeg. The project has been under discussion for many years.

This is an extremely expensive potential proposition, But if we look at it over a decades-long horizon rather than a year-long horizon, maybe it's realistic, Mr. Kinew said in an end-of-year interview. ;year.

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham, for his part, indicated that he wanted the idea to be studied and that he had recently discussed it with the provincial premier and federal minister Dan Vandal.

I know it would be a huge cost and complex job, but I wonder if we couldn't check if there are underused rail lines and branch lines that could be the first to be looked at, says the mayor .

Any changes to the railway route would also involve the railway companies concerned.

According to supporters of the project, relocating the rail lines would increase safety in Winnipeg because hazardous materials would no longer be transported through residential areas.

In addition, the large rail yards that punctuate the route in Winnipeg are considered by some as barriers between neighborhoods.

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The Arlington Bridge, which overlooks one of these stations separating the city center from the northern neighborhoods, was recently closed indefinitely due to the dilapidation of its structure, forcing motorists and pedestrians to make long detours .

According to Scott Gillingham, moving the railway lines could also free up land for housing construction.

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Since the Arlington Bridge closed last November, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians traveling to and from the North End have had to take detours. (File photo)

Last April, former Prime Minister Heather Stefanson again floated the idea agenda after a train carrying bitumen derailed near a railway overpass that passes over McPhillips Street, one of the busiest highways in the Manitoba capital.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The idea of ​​moving the rail lines has been discussed regularly since the 1960s. Rough estimates put the cost of the project at more than $1 billion.

In 2016, Greg Selinger's NDP government promised to spend $400,000 on a study into the cost and feasibility of moving the rail lines. In April of that year, the Progressive Conservatives were elected and then-Prime Minister Brian Pallister scrapped the project.

Wab Kinew, however, said he wanted to revisit the idea in the coming year.

The first step should be a plan that determines whether it is feasible and, if so, how can we carry out the project in a way that is fiscally responsible?

A quote from Wab Kinew, Premier of Manitoba

Opening the intersection of Portage and Main to pedestrians, another proposed project infrastructure, which has long been the subject of debate in Winnipeg, is not on Mr. Kinew's agenda.

This iconic intersection in the city center was closed to pedestrians in 1979. Passers-by who want to cross it have since encountered concrete guardrails and are forced to use underground passages.

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The corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street in Winnipeg, seen from the roof of a downtown building. (File photo)

This is not really one of our government's priorities at the moment. Health care, the economy, the deficit are things that take up a lot of our time, says Wab Kinew.

The first Minister says he voted against opening the intersection to pedestrians during a municipal plebiscite held as part of the 2018 Winnipeg election.

Opponents of the project, who cited concerns such as increased traffic, won the vote.

With information from The Canadian Press

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