WINNIPEG – 18 months late and $11-million over-budget, the Plessis Underpass is finally open to traffic.
Two lanes were opened on Halloween last year, and the other two lanes have now been opened as well.
“It was tough. There were some challenges as we went along,” said Transcona councillor Russ Wyatt. “It was an arduous process, but at the end of the day it was amazing to pull it together.”
Saying there were ‘some challenges’ might be an understatement. The original plan, created four years ago, targeted the end of 2014 for two lanes opening and March 2015 for the opening of four lanes.
But it didn’t take long before it became clear that target had no chance of being met.
In November 2013, the city accused CN Rail of slowing down construction as there were disagreements about how much CN would pitch in.
The project received funding from all three levels of government, though the federal Conservatives threatened to pull their funding because of how slow things were going.
Two lanes were then supposed to be opened July 15 of last year but the city needed an extension on that as well. They wound up opening last October.
The original cost of the project was supposed to be $77-million, but the city says the final cost came in at $88-million.
The question now becomes what the city can learn from this ordeal and apply it to future infrastructure projects.
“In 2008 there was hundreds of millions of dollars being announced across the country and we need to move fast. Ideally, it would be better to have ready-made projects on the shelf ready to build. But one of the challenges we have is that we have not had the ability to get to that level and to do that kind of annual funding to have shelf-ready projects.”