Engineering report says waterproofing membrane, most mechanical and electrical systems need replacing
Portage and Main concourse overhaul could hit $47M
THE City of Winnipeg was once warned the full cost to repair and update the underground concourse at Portage Avenue and Main Street could reach as high as $46.8 million.
That potential tab includes $12.6 million to repair the underground over the next 10 years ($16.8 million with inflation), according to the “Portage & Main Underground Concourse Facility Condition Assessment report” written by SMS Engineering Ltd. in May 2019. The cost could soar another $15 million to $20 million higher, if surface work to get access to the roof membrane is included, raising the total price to $32.6 million ($46.8 million with inflation), the report adds.
The report cautions that the roof membrane price is a preliminary estimate.
The city stresses there’s still work to do to pin down a final price.
“At this point in time, those estimates… do not include actual costs or contingencies,” said Kalen Qually, a city spokesman, in an email.
The engineering report was posted online with a new request for proposals. The RFP seeks a consultant to design the most immediate and critical underground repairs at the Portage and Main concourse, which opened in 1979, and determine a more refined cost estimate for the work.
That plan will address repairs that are required over the next five to 10 years to keep the concourse “accessible and available to the public while the city continues to develop a more comprehensive investment strategy,” wrote Qually.
The head of council’s property and development committee said the need for repairs at the aging concourse is obvious.
“There’s a lot of work that we know needs to be done. Of course, any time we have (a price estimate) that high it is a bit of a shock… We would have to look at this closely,” said Coun. Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre).
Gilroy said she believes some of the repairs are critical, including those that address safety.
The engineering report details many problems at the aging concourse, including a Portage Avenue skylight that “leaks during any major rain event.”
It concludes the waterproofing membrane, most of the mechanical systems and most of the electrical systems are “beyond their theoretical service life” and should be replaced. It also found the site’s “obsolete” fire alarm doesn’t meet current code or life safety standards.
Investments in Portage and Main have become a hot topic, especially since Winnipeggers voted against reopening the intersection’s aboveground crossing to pedestrians in 2018.
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), a former property and development chairman, stressed the underground repairs can’t be ignored, even if pedestrian access never resumes.
“It’s not like if we just agreed to crossing at grade, we could have avoided all this cost. It’s some aging infrastructure that needs to be fixed up,” said Mayes.
The RFP calls for detailed drawings to repair leakage to concrete foundation walls, a complete roofing system replacement and a skylight replacement at 210 Portage Ave. It also calls for repair and/or replacement plans for some electrical, pipe, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system), and fire protection elements. While the contractor is expected to provide a schedule for the work, the RFP notes “the city has no obligation to proceed with the construction services… until sufficient funding is available.”
Qually confirmed funding has not been approved for the construction work at this point. The city expects to award the contract in March 2021.
Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) said the public service will also seek a second consultant in January to address “intersection revitalization” for Portage and Main, which he said would look at sidewalk enhancements and the renewal of the roof membrane.
However, Browaty stressed he believes the city must complete access agreements with property owners at the intersection before it sets aside new funding for the concourse.
“I don’t think we should be spending a single dime right now, until we figure out what the sharing agreement is going to be with our partners, beyond the absolute bare minimum in maintenance to keep it open,” he said.
Browaty, who was a vocal opponent of reopening Portage and Main to pedestrians, said he agrees some underground upgrades and repairs are necessary.
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