Portage and Main Pedestrian Overpass Proposal

Update: Friday, October 10th 

It has been widely quoted, that an agreement signed in 1976 between the City of Winnipeg and the Portage & Main Building Owners has been the primary reason why a pedestrian crossing at Portage & Main has not be implemented. Our mayor has been quoted in the media as saying with out all the property owners consent, he would not proceed in good faith because of this agreement.

Here it is folks:

Dec.20, 1976 Agreement Portage & Main

You can download the entire agreement here: http://leeraito.com/download/Dec20-1976.pdf

Here is the Trizec Building  Agreement: http://leeraito.com/download/Trizec_Building_Agreement.pdf

Suffice to say, I stand behind the idea of the Portage & Main Pedestrian Overpass Proposal now more than ever. If all the city needs to do is provide access from the new structure to Winnipeg Square, then in good faith of the 1976 agreement that is what we should do!

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As a proud resident of Winnipeg and believer in the revitalization of our downtown, I have come up with a solution to the long standing debate on whether to open up pedestrian traffic at our infamous  intersection of Portage & Main. It has been 4 years since the City last held a design contest and nothing has happened, maybe it’s time for another one!

Portage & Main Pedestrian Overpass 

To read the hard to see text on the image:  http://www.LeeRaito.com/download/portageandmain.pdf  

Yes, Winnipeg should open up Portage & Main to pedestrian traffic and can do so WITHOUT affecting automobile traffic whatsoever. The establishment of a world class Pedestrian Overpass & Tourist Destination is the only solution that makes sense to both parties; pedestrians & automobiles. In addition to the blatantly obvious benefits to pedestrians being able to easily get to their desired downtown destination directly, there are many side benefits to building a pedestrian overpass directly above Portage & Main.

Potential Benefits:

Obvious Benefit: Automobile traffic unaffected and pedestrians can easily navigate to any corner of Portage & Main with out having to go below ground.

Revenue: There are many potential revenue streams.

  1. Advertising revenue from state of the art TV Billboards.
  2. Business & Property taxes if shops are developed.
  3. Revenue and exposure from the movie industry.
  4. Ancillary revenue to downtown businesses from increased tourist traffic.

Environmental: This can and should be a green initiative attempting to leave no lasting environmental footprint.

  1. We could include in the design some form of automobile exhaust capture and filtering to improve air quality downtown, and lessen the impact of Winnipeg’s overall environmental footprint on our planet.
  2. Harness Portage & Main’s famous wind and convert to electricity to power part of the facility.
  3. Solar power could as well be considered, any excess electricity produced could be pushed back to the grid.

Downtown Revitalization: If we successfully design and build a world class structure that tourists & Winnipeg residents want to visit, this will bring us one step closer to fully revitalizing our downtown. 

Of course, the idea in itself raises questions. 

Questions Raised:

  • Should the overpass remain open to the elements or should it become a closed in heated over pass with stores and other facilities?
  • Can designers successfully work into the plans wheel chair accessibility?
  • How can we ensure this remains a green project, and minimize its environmental footprint?
  • During construction how would businesses and current pedestrian traffic be affected?

Download the 1 Page PDF Visual Concept Here: http://www.LeeRaito.com/download/portageandmain.pdf  

Statement: I am not an artist and the structure depicted should and will drastically change for the better as this proposal moves forward. As recommended in the PDF, the City Of Winnipeg should establish an International Design contest to find the best workable concept. This idea has been forwarded to Winnipeg City Council for consideration.

Please contribute your thoughts, questions, agreement &  or concerns below… just hit the comment button!

  • Anonymous

    First of all I think this is an idea whose time has come.

    Traversing of the “windiest and coldest intersection in the geographical heartland of North America” will no longer require the citizens and tourists alike to disappear in to the subterranean maze of confusion. Instead they will be able rise above it all and to gaze west, north and south. As they get off the escalator or the stairs in the climate controlled round about they are greeted by digital solar powered screen giving them a time, date temperature and wind speed and direction as well as street names and other pertinent information. For the tourists interactive digital monitors will explain all about Winnipeg. The visually and mobility impaired can easily access the roundabout with aid of a special levator/escalator.

    With regards to revenue, I would personally suggest more positive verbiage such as there will be a bidding war when entrepreneurs and businesses realize tremendous visibility the roundabout would offer.
    -Between geothermal, solar and wind this facility could become a showcase for all that is green
    - Conceivably the construction could be accomplished in a step fashion by using modular construction methods. Only one street would be affected during each module.
    - It does not make sense to even think about a open roundabout, with wind and snow it would literally become a white frozen elephant that no one would want to use.

  • http://www.derekiwasiuk.com Derek

    for sure a great concept, with such a great incentive to stay on foot and bring downtown some attraction

  • http://garbagehill.wordpress.com/ Dino Cule

    I like the general idea, but really, Portage and Main is just an intersection and nothing more. For this idea to really work, the overpass would have to lead somewhere other than back into the ground. Portage and Main will not become Times Square.

    I think that time and money would be better spent at revitalizing public spaces in areas such as the Alexander Docks or Old Market Square. Those two are examples places that could undergo a transformation along the lines of the Forks, as opposed to a downtown intersection.

  • Seth

    Another waste of money I see. Not only that but an eyesore I think this would be.

    I agree with the last writer, the money is better off at the Alexander Docks or Old Market Square than wasting it at an intersection…..

  • memph

    Regardless of the exact solution chosen, I think it’s really important to have some sort of pedestrian crossing (not underground). I was visiting Winnipeg with my family as a tourist this summer, heading from the Exchange District to The Forks, and we were shocked that we couldn’t cross the city’s main intersection and had to go back 600 feet to McDermot (we didn’t know there was a tunnel). It left a pretty bad impression…