The South Railway - Hwy 32 intersection is the busiest by far.
By Don Radford
If you've been stuck trying to get onto Hwy 32 during the noon hour and end of day rush hours, you have probably wondered how many vehicles actually use that route on a typical day.
Want to take a guess? 5,000? Not even close. 10,000? Still a long way off. How does 17,000 sound?
A Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation estimate puts the northbound traffic count at the Hwy 32 and South Railway Avenue intersection at a mind-boggling 17,581. And it's a traffic flow the City of Winkler is painfully aware of.
That's why the city continues to suggest/plead/demand that the Province of Manitoba open the purse strings and commit the money needed for the four-laning of Hwy 32 south of the Roblin Blvd. intersection.
Winkler city council members voiced their concerns and frustrations Tuesday night over the continuing delay in getting the estimated $25 - $30 million project approved and underway.
"This drives me bananas," Mayor Martin Harder said of MIT's delay in proceeding with the project. He described estimates at intersections like South Railway as "scary."
Deputy-mayor Henry Siemens concurred.
"I defy anyone in Manitoba Highways and Transportation not to agree that something needs to be done," said Siemens.
Councillor Ron Neisteter said the Hwy 32 numbers (the MIT report also included estimated traffic counts at 13 other locations in Winkler) were "an affirmation that when we do Hwy 32, we have to do it right."
Mayor Harder agreed, saying that MIT understands that the project must involve four-laning, redesigned intersections and traffic lights where necessary.
Neisteter went on to observe that reconstruction of Hwy 32 would increase, not decrease, traffic flows. He said many drivers who are currently using alternate routes would return to a four-lane Hwy 32.
A POLITICAL ISSUE
Harder said the city has made its case to both MIT staff and to Minister Steve Ashton (and former ministers) many times and will continue to do so.
"I believe MIT staff are doing everything they can do but I also believe this is a political issue," he said. He said city council would continue to lobby the minister for immediate action and encourages Winkler residents to also make their views known.
Traffic estimates at some other intersections are:
Hwy 32 & Mountain........ 15,416
Hwy 32 & Pembina..........14,290
Hwy 32 and Cargill..........12,914
Hwy 32 & Southview....... 8,590
Hwy 32 and Roblin.......... 8,648
Main & Roblin................. 8,077