Missing link in connection to Birds Hill Park

By Dan Falloon

Originally published in the Herald
July 31, 2013

The Province of Manitoba has plans to get people in motion over the Perimeter Highway.

The province showed off three options for an active transportation overpass of PTH 101 near Raleigh Street at an open house in June. Its preferred plan is to build the overpass 270 metres west of Raleigh, which has the Northeast Pioneers Greenway trail running along the old rail bed between it and Gateway Road.

The preferred proposal would connect De Vries Avenue on the south and Maple Lane on the north. At an estimated $10 million, the proposal is the cheapest option, accommodates planned upgrades for Highway 59 and the Perimeter, and allows the possibility of a vehicle overpass of the Perimeter to link Raleigh, which is broken up by the highway.

An option to place the active transportation overpass directly at Raleigh was deemed too expensive at an estimated cost of $16 million, while another option linking De Vries to Mowat Road on the north side is about 1.4 km west of the trail for an estimated $10.5 million.
Plans call for construction of the overpass in 2015 and for it to be open for use in 2016.

Sigrun Bailey, the co-chair of the River East Neighbourhood Network (RENN) trail committee, the group that pushed the provincial government into committing to an overpass, fears the original vision of connecting the trail through to Birds Hill Park may not happen. The Trans-Canada Trail begins at the Garven Road terminus and connects to the park, and Bailey hopes to see the missing link put in place.

“They could have done work (with the rail bed), but that hasn’t happened yet,” said Bailey, who said the committee has discussed plans with East St. Paul since the Northeast Pioneers Greenway opened in 2005. “Their people would get out there and be healthier as well if they just fix up that little connection.”

RM of East St. Paul Mayor Lawrence Morris said creating a trail along the rail bed, like has been done within Winnipeg, is not a priority for the community right now. He would like to see it created in the future, but there is no timeline.

“We have to work on other trails first before we connect to the south side,” Morris said. “We have trails within housing developments and we’re trying to connect those together — one area of East St. Paul to another.

“We don’t have that many people living on the south side of Hoddinott (Road) toward the Perimeter that would use that trail. They use the interconnecting trails within their own subdivision.”

Minister of Healthy Living Jim Rondeau said some overpass supporters have encouraged it to be closer to Henderson Highway, but he dismissed that option.

“Raleigh is a nice street and it’s not as congested,” Rondeau said. “(The trail) makes it nice. It’s safe. It’s separated from traffic and it makes it easier.”

Twitter: @HeraldWPG