Manitoba promises to raise two bridges and highway to avoid flooding

By on November 22, 2014

Morris Mayor Gavin Van Der Linde (Screengrab from CBC footage)
Morris Mayor Gavin Van Der Linde (Screengrab from CBC footage)

MORRIS, Manitoba — Manitoba has pledged to raise two bridges as well as sections of Highway 75 near the town of Morris to keep a critical commercial route to the United States open during major floods.

The highway will be raised above levels of the 2009 floods.

Morris Mayor Gavin Van Der Linde says the community relies on truck traffic to boost local business.

He says big rigs provide $19 billion worth of economic activity to the U.S. and that activity stops when the road is closed, impacting local restaurants and gas stations.

The Morris River bridge was closed 46 days during the 1997 flood and 35 days in 2009.

The other bridge affected spans the Plum River.

Premier Greg Selinger says the project will cost about $200 million and create an estimated 2,200 jobs.

The announcement is drawing concern from some residents who live outside of town in low-lying areas. Mervin Dueck, who lives just outside Morris, is worried there’s not enough drainage.

“I don’t think they’ve taken into consideration those of us living within a couple miles of the 75,” he said, saying he thinks low-level floods will create pooling around his home.

Ralph Groening, reeve of the rural municipality of Morris, says he shares the same concerns, especially near the town of Aubigny.

“It’s a low spot in the Morris River Valley, and so water is retained, and so the concern that the residents have is that the new flood proofing project with the higher setting of the highway will retain the water and not allow for the kind of release and would impact them in that way.”

There’s no exact timeline for when construction on the project will begin. The province still needs to draw up design plans and complete further consultation.

The province says the earliest construction could start on the first phase is 2015. It estimates the whole project will take up to six years.