Imagination, vision, wonder — things that spark a new year and progressive city — have been stifled by the limited solutions the city’s entertaining for the Arlington Bridge.
The city has indicated that the structure (which will be 103 years old on Feb. 5) must come down, apparently for a modern crossing on-site or when another CPR crossing is created or expanded.
Pity. Elsewhere, obsolete crossings have been recycled as successful linear parks, for example in Paris (Promenade Plantée), New York (The High Line) and Chicago (where The Bloomingdale Trail and Park is being developed).
These projects encompass long stretches but consider Chattanooga’s Walnut Street Bridge, with its 724-metre span. Also a vertical park, it serves as a pedestrian passage, vista and events venue, hosting Oktoberfest, for instance.
Winnipeg has its own creative precedents. Pedestrians and cyclists have had full rein of the Elm Park Bridge for decades, most crossing for no other purpose than to enjoy the ambience (while consuming ice cream).
Winnipeggers have an appetite for this sort of thing. Last May, organizers pulled off a multi-course sit-down dinner for 1,200 people on another pedestrian bridge, Esplanade Riel.
Our non-vehicular spans don’t have to be limited in number (there’s no reason for a been-there-done-that attitude). While the idea of an Arlington Bridge linear park raises questions, for example how to handle the ramp grade and the availability of amenities nearby, surely there should be an opportunity for such consideration.
This is a green approach, avoiding wrecking costs, using existing materials and keeping them out of the landfill.
Traffic load concerns on the Arlington Bridge would not apply to cyclists and/or pedestrians. For these non-motorized users, alternate crossings are far-flung and busy.
In its online document, Arlington Bridge Solutions, the City of Winnipeg reports daily CPR traffic crossings in 2014: McPhillips Underpass reported 44,000 daily crossings; Slaw Rebchuk Overpass, 33,000; and Arlington Bridge, 14,000 (at cprcrossing.winnipeg.ca).
This document also shows that “public consultation” will happen this winter and spring. An earlier public meeting was held in December and is discussed by blogger Christian Cassidy in his item, “Process to replace the Arlington Bridge has begun”. He’s also posted a five-part history on the bridge, at westenddumplings.blogspot.ca.
Wolseleyites have a special attachment to Arlington Bridge. Arlington Street begins in Wolseley and directly connects our neighbourhood, via the structure over the CPR yards, to the city’s northern parts.
We should raise inspiring solutions that enrich the city. All options should be considered.
This article was originally published in Canstar Community News.