WINNIPEG — It’s a common occurrence during flood season in Manitoba — the closure of Highway 75.
The province hopes to alleviate some of those transportation delays and reroutes by raising two bridges and sections of the highway near Morris. The construction will keep the critical commercial route to the U.S. open for business during major floods.
Premier Greg Selinger made the announcement Friday in the community south of Winnipeg alongside Morris Mayor Gavin van der Linde and Reeve Ralph Groening.
Work to rebuild a large portion of the PTH 23 bridge over the Red River in Morris, Manitoba is now complete.
The province undertook the $32 million upgrade to extend the life of the structure by another 40 years. It was originally constructed on the east side of the town in 1968.
“When upgrades to the approach roads to the bridge are completed next summer, PTH 23 will be higher near the dike so it will no longer be necessary to temporarily raise the road during larger floods,” said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.
Motorists who use the Red River Bridge on Highway 23 at Morris will need to find an alternative route beginning Monday.
The province is closing the roadway at 6 a.m. for a two-month period to replace the bridge deck. The work is part of a planned $30 million rehabilitation project.
The closure will be in effect until August 25 at 6 a.m. From then until September 29, the bridge will be re-opened to two-way traffic at 50 km/h and from 6 a.m. September 29 to 6 a.m. December 1 when the bridge will be closed to all traffic.
To ensure a vital transport link between the U.S. and Canada remains open during spring flooding, Highway 75 will see $215 million in structural upgrades.
The Manitoba government will focus on the northbound lanes to be built to interstate standards, similar to what the southbound lanes have seen within the last five years.
The announcement was made Wednesday at Bison Transport on Sherwin Road alongside officials from the Manitoba Trucking Association, Manitoba Heavy Construction Association and CentrePort Canada.
Work includes rebuilding 53 kilometres of the northbound lanes of Highway 75 from St. Jean Baptiste to St. Adolphe, and constructing new bridges over the Morris River (north of Morris) and the Plum River (south of Morris) that will complement existing flood protection infrastructure for the area.
Upgrades in five other key locations are also part of the government’s proposal (left), building on the work already completed.
A vital bridge that acts as a link to the community of Morris is getting an upgrade.
The bridge on Highway 23 over the Red River will see deck and railing replacements, girder strengthening, pier repairs, and slope stabilization of the west embankment.
“This bridge was built in the late ’60s and is an important route in and out of Morris when PTH 75 is closed during major flood events,” Premier Greg Selinger said. “However, the bridge now needs major repairs to ensure that it remains safe and can continue to be used as the town’s lifeline for years to come.”
A workplace accident has claimed the life of a man from the RM of Rhineland.
The 32-year-old was loading a forklift onto a flatbed truck last Friday when it fell off and crushed him. RCMP say foul play is not suspected in the death, which happened at a construction site on Caron Street in St. Jean Baptiste just after 5 p.m.
The man was taken to Morris General Hospital where he later died from serious injuries.
The name of the deceased isn’t being released.
Workplace Safety and Health are investigating along with RCMP.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger on Friday toured the southern areas of the province most prone to flooding this season along the Red River.
Forecasters are calling for flood levels similar to those of 2009, which forced the closure of Highway 75 for 36 days due to overland flooding. The highway — a main artery between Canada the U.S. — runs directly through the town of Morris.
Selinger met with Morris Mayor Gavin van der Linde to see how the community is preparing for the pending water and to see what plans it has in place should a worse case scenario occur.
“The main issue facing us is an economic one when the highway shuts down, as well as the inconvenience of driving around town,” van der Linde said. “The rural areas do have some more difficulties with some of their roads going under water. If the waters do come too high, then we have the problem when they (residents) end up boating or being evacuated.”
Portions of the highway could be raised in the future based on the outcome of a study the province has commissioned to avoid the same situation every spring. Morris already has a permanent ring dike, which officials are shoring up with large rocks and extra clay.
Selinger later toured Emerson — another community that will see flooding — and met with local officials before wrapping up his day.