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Facelift anticipated for Portage and Main, despite plebiscite

The barriers at Portage and Main.
The barriers at Portage and Main. Elisha Dacey/Global News

A day after the majority of Winnipeg voters said “no” to reopening Portage and Main to pedestrians, the city says it is studying a long-term redesign of the intersection, which will include millions of dollars in repairs.

John Kiernan, the city’s director of planning, property and development, said he’s unsure of how much repairs to the intersection, both above and below ground, will cost, as there is “very limited information” available when it comes to what might be found underneath the barricades, which sit a metre below the surface.

“There is a membrane that has been in place for 40 years,” Kiernan said. “We’re concerned as we uncover it.”

READ MORE: Bowman says he’s disappointed by plebiscite, will respect it

A study of the existing condition, he said, is currently underway.

Last year, the city set aside $3.5 million dollars for the intersection, which included $1.5 million for the planning and reopening of Portage and Main.

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Kiernan said he believes those figures are still realistic for the time being.

READ MORE: Group to let Winnipeggers try crossing Portage and Main in a wheelchair

“Council, in October of last year, was saying give us more information on what those costs are,” he said. “That hasn’t been perused because of…the need for a plebiscite.”

Kiernan said the city is also considering making the intersection more accessible and possibly replacing the current barriers with something like bollards or railings.

“We want to plan not just for tomorrow, but for the next 20 or 30 years.”

WATCH: Don’t mess with traffic at Portage and Main: Jeff Browaty

Don’t mess with traffic at Portage and Main: Jeff Browaty
Don’t mess with traffic at Portage and Main: Jeff Browaty

Jeff Browaty, who called for the plebiscite on allowing pedestrian crossings at Winnipeg’s iconic intersection, says the voters clearly don’t want anyone messing with traffic there.