Even in a city where it's often remarked the only seasons are "winter" and "construction," the summer of 2018 is shaping up to be a particularly busy period for roadwork in Winnipeg.
With more than half of the city's 200-plus planned projects already underway, Mayor Brian Bowman officially kicked off the road construction season at a news conference on Friday.
The previously announced roadwork investment of $116 million this year is a record-breaker for the city, Bowman said, and will see improvements to more than 150 lane kilometres of Winnipeg streets.
"Just to put that in perspective, that's the distance from around the [Royal Canadian] Mint to the Ontario border. So, from Winnipeg to Ontario in this construction season alone," Bowman said at the news conference.
Projects include an $18-million makeover, including active transit lanes, of Empress Street — named Manitoba's worst road by CAA this year — as well as redevelopments on Pembina Highway and McPhillips Street.
Bowman asked for patience from Winnipeg drivers as the construction continues.
"We remind everybody to bear with us during this very busy construction eason. Please be careful around the construction workers who are literally helping repair and rebuild our city," he said.
"I would strongly urge all of you, if you haven't already done so, to download the free Waze app so you can get real-time information on a very extensive construction season which at times will slow you down.
"We want to make sure that we get you where you need to go as efficiently as possible in the safest manner as we can."
Different asphalt mix will extend paving season
New innovations this season include an early start to engineering consultation — that began in 2017, Bowman said, allowing work to start last summer on $15-million worth of projects that have been slated for this year — as well as the use of warm-mix asphalt in place of hot-mix asphalt on a trial basis in some projects.
Using warm-mix asphalt means workers can extend the paving season by up to three weeks into colder temperatures, the mayor said.
Warm-mix asphalt is used for about 30 per cent of roadwork in the U.S., he added.
The asphalt will be used on about 44 projects in the city's thin bitumen overlay program on a trial basis.
Road construction by the numbers
Number of construction projects:
2017 — more than 150
2018 — approximately 200
Number of lane kilometres to be repaired
2017 — 200
2018 — 150
Road repairs budget
2017 — $105M
2018 — $116M