For four years, PhD student Shalini Mukherjee has taken the bus from Manahan Avenue on Pembina Highway to the University of Manitoba. She knows the few minutes of wait at the bus stop on a windy winter morning can be quite an ordeal. This time, she is preparing for much worse.
Her apprehension is as much about the weatherman’s prediction for mid-November, as with the on-going construction of buffered bike lanes on Pembina Highway. Every glass-walled bus shelter on the stretch between Chevrier Boulevard and Bihsop Grandin Boulevard has been dismantled, and they seem unlikely to be put back before the worst of winter sets in.
The City of Winnipeg had maintained that the work would be over by November 9th and the shelters restored in the next week or two. However, as of this past Friday afternoon, unkempt patches of dug-up soil could be seen every few meters on the pavements along both flanks. There was no indication of the shelters being brought back.
Geoff, a construction worker said, “We are behind schedule, but not by much.” Bayview Construction, involved in the project implementation, refused to comment when contacted.
The City blames the ‘minor’ delay on weather related factors in the last couple of weeks.
The fact remains, a few thousand bus users will be left to the mercy of nature as Winnipeg is lashed by early winter snow storms and blustery weather. Possibly, the situation could have been averted.
And that is not an unrealistic projection. Work for the four-month project commenced only in late July, and has largely been on schedule. However, with a targeted completion for early November, it was always touch-and-go whether it would be done before the arrival of severe winter weather.
For now, if commuters taking the bus along this wind swept stretch of Pembina Highway want to stay warm, they better dress accordingly and brace themselves. The forecast is for a cold week ahead, with temperatures in the range of -10 to -20 degrees celsius.