Riverbank erosion concerns drive Wellington Crescent rehab
A portion of the Wellington Crescent parkway will be dug up and moved south in anticipation of the pavement eventually slipping into the river.
Come winter, crews are scheduled to begin an estimated $9.6-million project to rebuild the roadway between Fulham Avenue and Grenfell Boulevard. The project will also include a kilometre-long riverbank stabilization effort to slow failures along the southern bank of the Assiniboine River.
“We’ve had one failure and, thankfully, it was not a large, widespread failure,” said Cam Ward, a project manager in the city’s public works department. “If we didn’t do anything, eventually you would see relatively large riverbank failures progressing away from the riverbank and impacting City of Winnipeg assets.”
Ward said city officials have been monitoring the portion of riverbank just before the entrance to Assiniboine Park since 2015. The year following, the paved pathway looping through trees along the river started to crack and in 2017 the riverbank failed, forcing a closure of the area.
The city has released plans to rehabilitate the area and a preliminary design for the relocation of Wellington Crescent.
The project will include placing riprap stone to reinforce the bank, shear keys to slow sliding, moving pathways and the removal and replanting of trees.
Relocating Wellington Crescent south instead of shoring up the riverbank was a more economical decision and fit within the council-approved project budget, Ward said.
The project cost would have increased to $15.5 million to build the retaining wall necessary to safely accommodate the 8,700 cars that use the existing road on a daily basis.
Before relocating the street, which would reduce setbacks for homes on the crescent, area councillor Kevin Klein said the city ought to give more consideration to a proposal to close or limit the road to vehicles and turn it into an active transportation corridor.
“Those trees are priceless and moving the road closer to the homes is not going to eliminate the problem forever,” Klein said. “The residents have all told me... they’d prefer the road be closed.
“The residents are disappointed that the city is not listening to them and they’re very angry that the neighbourhood has not been included in any official engagement.”
The city has consulted residents adjacent to the project area, however.
“You have to stabilize the riverbank, we know that,” Klein said. “I believe it’s reasonable to close that and make it a path like they suggested.”
Traffic studies conducted by the city ruled out closing the road after noting the diverted traffic would overwhelm adjacent streets.
While a pathway requires less investment than a roadway to protect it from riverbank instability, overall cost savings would be negligible due to work required to relocate underground assets and add needed traffic infrastructure, Ward said.
The city has launched an online portal to collect public feedback on the project and preferred roadway alignment. Two webinars will also be held on June 9. More information can be found at engage.winnipeg.ca.
Construction is expected to be complete by October 2021.