The iconic Arlington Bridge.

Fred Morris

An Update on Fred Morris article about Arlington Street Bridge Challenge to provincial candidates: Time to tear down the Arlington Bridge before it falls down! Where do YOU stand?


Long-time North End Winnipeg Alderman John Blumberg made the following 2 comments about the Arlington Street Bridge on Page 3 of the July 30, 1946 Winnipeg Free Press:
" The sooner the bridge comes down and a modern one goes up the sooner the City will maintain expenses"
" alarming" Blumberg's reaction to recent bridge inspections


During the early 1900's Arlington Street turned into Brant Street at Notre Dame. On February 5, 1912 the Arlington Bridge was opened connecting Brown Street in the north end with Brant Street . Brown and Brant were renamed Arlington . Arlington Street now ran from the Assiniboine River into the North End. There have been attempts to connect the Arlington Bridge to south Winnipeg. On July 3, 1912, a newspaper notice announced that a bridge would be built connecting Arlington Street and Mitchell Street in the south. In 1957, a Greater Winnipeg Traffic Report recommended building a bridge connecting Aubrey Street ( just west of Arlington) to Waverley Street. Neither idea happened. We should accept the fact that traffic coming off of the Arlington Street will have to divert 7 streets over to Maryland in order to access south Winnipeg.

The steep inclines on the new Arlington Bridge created immediate problems. Safety concerns resulted in the cancellation of the planned Street Car Service over the Bridge before the first Streetcar had travelled over the Bridge .

The bridge was repaired in 1931, 1943, 1946, 1947, and 1952. These repairs included deck , sidewalk and foundation repairs. Some of the problems were caused by smoke from the locomotives. On July 20, 1965, a front-page Winnipeg Free Press Story reported that the Bridge was badly rusted. Weight restrictions were implemented to extend the bridge's life by 5 years. In 1979 80, the City Council approved the Sherbrook McGregor Overpass to replace the Arlington Street Bridge. the direct link from McGregor a main North End street to the HSC, and the Maryland Bridge is actually a better north south corridor when compared to Arlington. The PC Provincial Government of Sterling Lyon committed funds. However, City Council changed their mind due to strong community opposition. In 1992, the Bridge was closed for a 6-month repair. The repair was expected to add 10 or 20 years to the life of the bridge. In 2000, the Bridge was closed twice when train accidents damaged the bridges girders holding up the bridge approaches. In 2007, a comprehensive Winnipeg Free Press report graded most Winnipeg bridges. Arlington Street was rated POOR. girders. In 2018, Global News expresses concerns about severe corrosion and cracks. (1) . On April19 2019, the Bridge was temporarily closed due to asphalt problems In 2020, the Bridge was closed for several weeks. these repairs included asphalting the entire bridge.

The possible relocation of the CP Rail yards has long been used as an excuse not to build a replacement bridge. There is always a slight chance that the rail yard relocation may eliminate the need for existing bridges.

However, this argument has not stopped the construction of other bridges or underpasses over or under rail lines. Salter Street bridges have been built in 1898, 1932, and 1984. A CN line running thorough East and South Winnipeg created traffic problems. These problems have been eased by the construction of underpasses at Kenaston, Plessis, and Waverley.

The City has kept the bridge open by frequent inspections and closures. However, we cannot inspect any bridge every day. The severe rust could cause problems at a moment's notice. An administration report to City Council on June 20, 2019 clearly states that the Bridge may have to temporarily or permanently close with no notice.

After 75 years of warnings, the time has come to tear down the Alington Street Bridge.

On February 10, 2023, CTV reported that the City was conducting a $850,000 Feasibility Study to extend the life of the bridge by another 25 years. How can any of the 13 members of the current City Council who voted to adopt the 2019 Report saying the Bridge was almost beyond repair now authorize spending City Tax Dollars to contradict their 2019 position.

The real question is whether the Arlington Street Bridge is still safe. All 3 major Manitoba Political Parties seem to have an identical position on this issue. It is a City issue. However, there have simply been too many red flags over the past 75 years . The Province should step in and inspect the bridge. Future regular inspections should be done by both the. City and the Province. Let us hear from the Provincial politicians during the Election Campaign on this issue.

1.article by Elisha Dacey quoting Young Jin Cha, a Civil Engineering Prof

Update November 21, 2023
The closure today is basically the prediction of the June 20, 2019 Administrative Report coming true. The Bridge was recently closed for most of September and October 2023. Any attempt to reopen the Arlington Street Bridge will be wrong and dangerous. In a few days, City Council should pass a motion at an emergency meeting to immediately completely demolish the Arlington Street Bridge. We must live without this bridge for 2 or 3 years. The decision to build a new bridge on the same site or relocate the yards must be made and acted upon quickly. Their is no time for a long debate. How many decades have we been talking about this issue??

Finally, I know that there are pressures on Governments to spend our tax dollars elsewhere. We certainly heard of these other priorities in the recent Provincial Election Campaign. However, spending money on a new bridge or a relocation has become a number 1 priority involving the City, Province, and Federal Governments.

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