Construction Update

Update July 19, 2024

We had another productive week again. We finished paving the shoulders on the section from 20th Street to the tracks and have moved traffic to the outside lanes to start working on the medians in that section. We will continue to work on building the new medians and milling the old asphalt surface where required to get ready to repave.

We are continuing to work on the section from 13th Street to 20th Street, pouring concrete sidewalks and doing some landscaping and sodding.

We are making good progress and are on track to finish up on schedule and have everything fully completed this year.

Update July 12, 2024

We have made good progress on the shoulder widenings at the west end from 20th Street to the tracks, and have the first lift of asphalt down. Next week we will continue on the widening and then move to starting some curb and median work on that section, so the final road layout will start to show up. Much like the section from 7th Street to 20th Street, it should be safer and more functional with the new design.

The base crew has gotten more prep work done, and has gotten far enough ahead that the concrete crew is back on site working on approaches and sidewalks. Next week we will be finishing the remaining curb and gutter on the section from 13th Street to 20th Street and starting on the section from 20th Street to the tracks.

The landscapers are also continuing to work on the planting and sodding in the boulevards and planters. One of the City’s contractors mowers had an adjuster break last week and some of the new grass got cut shorter than we would have liked, but it’s still growing, we’re checking it daily and it still looks good.

Lane and intersection closures should remain much the same for next week, with the occasional short term (1-2 hours) closure of some intersections as we perform work through or in the intersection.

Update July 5, 2024

Although it wasn’t as busy this week on the section from 8th Street to 20th Street, we got a lot of the shoulder widening work done from 20th Street to the tracks.

Next week we will continue working on the shoulder work, with the hopes of possibly paving one lift of asphalt later in the week. We will also continue working on the boulevards from 8th Street to 13th Street, and plan to start laying sod sometime next week.

Lane and intersection closures should stay the same for the next week.

Update June 28, 2024

Despite the rainy weather today, we’ve had a productive week construction wise. We’ve poured most of the curb and gutter between 13th Street and 20th Street, making the new roadway more visible. We continue working on the excavation and gravel for the widening between 20th Street and the tracks, which should be completed next week. Once that’s done, we will start laying asphalt and constructing the medians in the center.

We continue to work on sidewalks, pathways, and landscaping, and we are trying to open up parking wherever possible.

Lane and intersection closures will remain the same for the next week, with the possibility of some minor closures (1-2 hours) as we complete work through some intersections.

Updated June 21, 2024

We have completed the main roadway excavation and large rock installation between 13th Street and 20th Street, and are placing the smaller stone to prepare for installation of concrete curb and gutters on that section next week. That will really make it start looking like a finished road.

We have paved the asphalt pathway from 7th Street to 13th Street.

We are continuing with the widening of the shoulders between 20th Street and the tracks west of Elm Street. Once the shoulders have been widened, we will start working on constructing the medians on that section and then the final asphalt placement.

The landscapers are continuing to work on the north side between 7th Street and 20th Street and will cut the new sod when it’s required. They typically like to let it get a little longer until it gets rooted, so they haven’t forgotten about it, it will be cut soon if it hasn’t been already.

Update June 14, 2024

Despite the less-than-perfect weather, we’re still making good progress.

The excavation between 13th Street and 20th Street is almost complete and the first lift of rock should be installed within the next couple of days. As they are completing that, they are starting to prepare to pour the curb and gutter on that section, so it should start looking more like a roadway in the next week or two.

The majority of the asphalt pathway between 7th Street and 12th Street has been paved, and work on the medians and sidewalk continues.

The landscaper has been progressing well with plantings and sod. This weather is great for growing sod, though less than ideal for road building.

We have started excavating for the new shoulders between 20th Street and just west of Elm Street, where we will be installing a center median and widening the roadway to shift the driving lanes slightly and add a paved shoulder. Once the shoulders are complete on the south side, (probably in the next week) we will be switching traffic so we can work on the shoulders on the north side.

Intersection closures should remain more or less the same for the next week or two, aside from the occasional short-term (one or two day) closure as we perform some work in the intersections.

Update May 31, 2024

Over the next week, roadway excavation will continue, and new rock will be brought in east of 18th Street heading toward 16th and 17th Streets. Unfortunately, starting today, vehicles can no longer park in front of the businesses between 16th and 17th Streets due to safety concerns and limited space for maneuvering. The intersection at 18th Street has been reopened, with signage along the Crescent directing people to the businesses. However, the intersections at 16th and 17th Streets will need to be closed for excavation.

The majority of the concrete sidewalk work between 7th and 13th Streets is complete, and work on the medians and asphalt pathway is ongoing.

We are also continuing underground/sewer work between 20th Street and Elm Street, which should be completed in the next two weeks, at which time work will begin on roadworks in that area.

Meanwhile, we have been installing new traffic signal lights at 8th Street and 12th Street, and hope to have the new lights at 8th Street fully operational within the next two weeks.

About the Project

City Council is committed to making significant gains on revitalizing Saskatchewan Ave West. We have allocated the resources to properly plan for future infrastructure improvements such as paved parking, curbing and sidewalks and we look forward to working with our Provincial and Federal funding partners to ensure we achieve this major community improvement.

Phase One of the project began in the fall of 2021 and will relocate and renew utility infrastructure to the gravel shoulders along the avenue between 4th Street West and Elm Street. This work will be completed this spring
Saskatchewan Ave W Improvement Area

Phase two of this project will be completed between 2022 and 2024 and will involve rebuilding Saskatchewan Avenue West, including the paved avenue, sidewalks, bike paths, green space, parking spaces, and enhanced land drainage.

A public open house was held in the fall of 2021 to present the project to the public. The city also held online focus groups with property owners directly affected by the project.

No increase in property taxes is expected as a result of this project.  The City has been planning for this project for many years and has identified operating funds available from maturing debt and existing resources to service debt payments for this project over its term of 15 years.

1) What the is reason for the Roadway Redesign? 

The City of Portage la Prairie is developing and implementing roadway improvements along Saskatchewan Avenue West.  Upgrading Saskatchewan Avenue West to a modern design and current accessibility standards will make the street accessible for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians while providing a consistent and commercially vibrant pedestrian connection to the downtown. This project will also renew the underground City services such as land drainage, wastewater sewer, and watermains.

To achieve this, the project will occur in two phases:

Phase 1: Improvements to the Watermain and Wastewater Sewer Infrastructure (Spring 2022 – Spring 2023). This scope includes:

  • Replacement of the aging watermain and wastewater sewer infrastructure

Phase 2:  Upgrades to the Land Drainage Sewer System, Roadway, and Streetscape Improvements (Autumn 2022 – Autumn 2024). This scope includes:

  • An improved and safer roadway that will include a separation median and left turn lanes where required
  • Renewed roadway surfaces to improve drainage and rideability
  • Improved and new sidewalks and pedestrian crossings
  • Improved accessibility to accommodate people of all ages and abilities
  • Improved and environmentally friendly land drainage control
  • Safer vehicle parking
  • Dedicated and protected bicycle lanes
  • Improved energy efficient lighting
  • Community-enhancing, business-friendly streetscaping and gathering spaces
  • Improved greenspaces in the median and boulevard

2) Why change the parking from perpendicular to parallel?

To bring Saskatchewan Avenue West to modern roadway design and accessibility standards, the existing perpendicular parking will be re-organized to parallel parking. This change results in safer vehicular movements as parked vehicles will no longer be backing into on-coming traffic.  This parking re-organization continues the downtown parallel parking plan on Saskatchewan Avenue East while allowing the sidewalk and boulevards to widen for better pedestrian and cyclist connections. The space gained by re-organizing the parking also provides space for new street trees, soft landscape improvements and new pedestrian lighting.

3) What improvements are being made to the accessibility on Saskatchewan Avenue West?

Along the north side of Saskatchewan Avenue West will be a paved 3.0m (10’-0”) wide multi-use path connecting the Fisher Avenue active transportation path to 18th Street NW.  From 18th to 4th Street NW will be a continuous 1.8m (6’-0”) wide concrete sidewalk.

Along the south side of Saskatchewan Avenue West will be a 1.8m (6’-0”) wide continuous concrete sidewalk connecting Elm to 4th Street SW.

Once construction is complete Saskatchewan Avenue will have a continuous sidewalk connection from Elm Street to 10th Street East.

The dark, longitudinal paver band within the new concrete sidewalks will provide visual and tactile guidance along the path of travel.

To move safely and smoothly from the roadway to the sidewalk, curb ramps will be implemented. Curb ramps are sloped access points from the sidewalk down to the roadway and are included at all private approaches, pedestrian crossings, side streets, and major intersections for ease of accessibility. Yellow tactile warning tiles will be used inside the curb ramps at major intersections and side streets which serve as textural cues for pedestrians who are visually impaired. These tiles let users know when they are leaving the sidewalk and entering the roadway.

4) Why are bicycle lanes implemented on Saskatchewan Avenue West?

The redesign of Saskatchewan Avenue West to include 1.8m (6’-0”) wide protected bicycle lanes is part of the federal funding grant to improve the City’s multi-modal opportunities and offer climate change friendly alternatives to driving.

5) How will pedestrian lighting improve the street?

The roadway lighting renewal along Saskatchewan Avenue West is currently underway. The street will be lit by 45’ high overhead roadway lighting provided by Manitoba Hydro at regular intervals which greatly benefits traffic.

To create a comfortable pedestrian and cyclist experience, lighting levels are required to be human scale. The pedestrian scale lights selected for Saskatchewan Avenue West are energy-efficient LED fixtures, approximately 14’ above the ground. The fixtures distribute light to the sidewalk and bike lanes, minimizing conflict with the overhead roadway lighting and glare for drivers. This street lighting provides continuity in scale connecting Saskatchewan Avenue West with the downtown. Improved street lighting enables comfortable walkable and bikeable spaces, encourages alternative modes of transportation, and supports the street as a place and less of a thoroughfare.

6) How will green infrastructure benefit Portage la Prairie?

Green infrastructure is a necessary design component implemented in this project to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The bioswales are designed to capture stormwater run-off and slow down the process of releasing water into the stormwater system.  The capture allows the water-tolerant vegetation and engineered soil to filter and transpire the stormwater, reducing pollutants and sediment before reaching the new outfalls in Crescent Lake.

The renewed urban tree canopy improves air quality by reducing greenhouse gases. The canopy also provides significant cooling benefits by not only reducing the environmental temperature but also reducing the cooling demand on building surfaces to conserve energy.

Street trees and green infrastructure not only benefit environmental health, but they also enhance the aesthetic qualities of the street often increasing property values and marketability.

7) How will the urban tree canopy be improved?

To ensure greater biodiversity, three different species will be planted along Saskatchewan Avenue West:

  1. Discovery Japanese Elm: Ulmus davidiana japonica ‘Discovery’
  2. Silver Cloud Maple: Acer saccharinum ‘Silver Cloud’
  3. Delta Hackberry: Celtis occidentalis

These trees are better suited to the urban environment.  The elm is a variant that is less susceptible to Dutch elm disease (DED) than the typical American elm. Even with a mild risk of DED, elm trees remain the very best tree for urban streets.  The maple is rated well for cold hardiness, nicely fast growing and will provide a striking autumnal accent. The Delta Hackberry is a native species sourced from Delta, Manitoba.  Hackberry have been performing extremely well in urban conditions and we’re excited to feature this local tree on Saskatchewan Avenue.

Cottonwood trees are beautiful and have many desirable landscape characteristics. However, due to their massive size and ability to produce large amounts of cotton-like seeds, they aren’t a species that are well-suited to a streetscape.

Where new trees are located within the paver zone, Silva Cells are used below the surface to maintain sufficient soil volume. The Silva Cell system is designed to provide uncompacted soil beneath the pavement for the tree roots to expand resulting in healthier, happier urban trees.

8) 8th Street SW Intersection:

The engineering team has recommended that 8th Street SW become a one-way southbound street from Saskatchewan Avenue West to St. George Avenue. The new intersection design reduces the potential for north/south collisions and improves roadway definition while reducing pedestrian crossing distances and the number of intersection movements.  This change improves safety for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Why does 8th Street require a change?

The existing intersection at 8th Street and Saskatchewan Avenue West is an offset intersection, meaning the north and south sides of the street are not aligned. This offset alignment results in a wider intersection with poorly defined lanes. The problems which can occur are vehicles drifting from their lanes, vehicles not being in their proper location, and an increased potential for collisions.

How does it work?

The following diagrams illustrate how traffic will access 8th Street SW from all directions:

Why can’t we realign 8th Street?

For the City of Portage to correct the intersection and maintain the existing two-way traffic, one side of the street would need to be realigned. To do this, the City would need to obtain property and disrupt businesses or residents which can be a long, contentious, and expensive process that typically results in property owners/residents feeling unfairly treated.

To avoid this process and reduce the potential for collisions 8th Street SW will be converted to a one-way operation, between Saskatchewan Avenue West and St. George Avenue.

Click on each image to download a larger document.