Friday, March 26, 2010

They designed a Hummer Bridge; we want a Prius!

Omand's Creek bridge spans an enchanted little creek, thick with tall grass prairie, nestled in a quiet valley that meanders through my neighbourhood.  The valley is an urban oasis for off-road cyclists, birders, fishers, and family tobogganing outings. The bridge is flooded most springs for about 3 to 6 weeks forcing cyclists, walkers, and runners to detour up to Portage Avenue for ... what else... a "portage". The portage adds about 6 minutes to my run and about 15 minutes to an average walk. These pictures were taken last Sunday and shows the creek skimming just below the bridge.  Last year at this time the bridge was completely submerged for weeks.  As the water subsides it leaves a sludge of thick river gumbo that hardens like concrete.  I wouldn't call the bridge flooding a major issue, but it sure is inconvenient.
The shot below shows the breadth of the creek from Raglan Street across to the local toboggan hill used by generations of local families. My family has been in the neighbourhood since 1947.  I have fond memories of my dad and my uncle taking me and my sibs tobogganing on Sundays while my mother and grandmother prepared the Sunday feast.  We returned home exhausted and famished!  No video games for us. Fast forward several decades and there I am taking my son and his friends tobogganing on that same hill.  Yes it's just a hill, but it's also a sacred keeper of fond memories for generations of families.
The City of Winnipeg received a one time only $20 million gift from the federal government to improve active transport (trails) in the city.  The money must be used to connect neighbourhoods and the downtown area with improved trails.  The money must be spent by March 2011. One million has been earmarked to replace the Omand's Creek Bridge with a new span above the 100 year flood mark.  Sounds good?  
Actually no. 
The proposed design for the new bridge would destroy the natural beauty of the creek and valley (see below). The bridge would span from the very top of Raglan Road to the top of the Toboggan Hill effectively wiping out all access to tobogganing.  The proposed bridge is a monolithic structure completely out of sync with the environment. It's 3 meters wide and straight as an arrow and looks more like a bridge for cars and trucks, not pedestrians and cyclists. It's such overkill it would be laughable if the consequences weren't so serious. To fully appreciate the impact you need to stand on the top of Toboggan Hill and imagine a 3 meter roadway spanning the creek to Raglan Road.  It's a Hummer bridge and the residents want a Prius!  The neighbourhood came out in strength last week to voice their objection to such a design.  Fortunately, this design is now off the drawing board.
I'll post more on this issue in the coming days.  Ya'll come back now.

It's a good day to be alive, but you already know this.

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