28 Jun

It’s Time to Go

For anyone who has travelled on the west Perimeter Highway (PTH 100) over the past three years, the seemingly never-ending construction on the double-span bridge crossing the Assiniboine River has undoubtedly been a source of immense consternation.
Delays associated with construction are a fact of life in Manitoba, particularly where the construction season is short. However, the fact that this bridge still remains under construction is nothing short of an outrage.
By way of comparison, the much-publicized bridge in St. Adolphe that collapsed was completely rebuilt in 18 months.
Today, “work” still continues on the bridge on the Perimeter.
Cross the bridge, however, and you won’t find any workers. There are just cones and signs telling you to slow down.
Scaffolding, but no workers
Despite the apparent lack of activity, a recent Twitter post from the official government account said that there was “no concrete timeline” for the restoration of four-lane traffic.
No further explanation was provided.
As I have passed through that “construction zone” over the past three years, I could not help but think that there was an intent to make this project into a quasi-permanent job.
More than a year ago, they actually dug up part of the shoulder to put this “Prepare to Stop” sign on what used to be a four-lane highway. There are stop signs on the approaches and a new traffic light on the approach from westbound Roblin Boulevard.
A good friend of mine recently suggested, half-jokingly, that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go through there in the middle of the night and collect all the cones.
It’s an idea that I suspect more than one driver has thought of during the past three years.
If there’s work that still needs to be done on that bridge, then they need get to it. But if they’re done, then they need to collect their stuff and move on. No one is trying to put them out of a job, but there are many highways across the province that need their urgent attention.
It’s time to go.
03 Jun

Open House at CN Transcona Shops

Yesterday, I attended the first-ever open house at the CN Transcona Shops, put on as part of Transcona’s centennial celebrations taking place this weekend.
I wasn’t alone. There was a long lineup along Pandora Avenue West in advance of the 9:00 opening and I was among the first wave of people through the gates.

After getting past the table where they were giving away little toy foam trains, I made my way to the line for the shop tour.

I was in the second group where CN mechanics Julien and Lars took us around the complex over the course of the next hour and a half.

Our first stop was the building where they repair the cars.

Next, we toured the electrical shop.

On our way to the next building, Julien pointed out the devil that looks over them as they work.

Inside their break room, they had a display of artifacts comparable to what I’ve found at the Winnipeg Railway Museum in Union Station.

The highlight of the tour was seeing all the locomotives on display.

Everything was nicely set up for us to get a true “behind the scenes” look at what they do and all that goes into keeping their trains up and running. There was one locomotive that was open and we were allowed to climb up and go inside. To my surprise, the door was in front and the area in front that one might suspect holds the engine instead is a tiny storage compartment.

Nothing is wasted and everything comes back for repair, even this locomotive that was sideswiped:

This is how they get underneath the engines:

On our way out, they showed us other areas of the shop, including the engine wash.

They lift the engine into this contraption, seal it up, and let it run for four hours.

After the shop tour, there was a lot more to see, including a series of passenger cars and another locomotive. The lines were long and since I had already been inside one moments earlier, I passed on it.

I appreciated the extremely informative tour and I was very glad I made the effort to attend. I was also impressed by the enthusiasm and pride that the shop employees had in their work. It’s not a job for everyone, but they obviously enjoy what they do and it showed.