Portage and Main, Winnipeg

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Portage and Main, Winnipeg

Postby Paul Clerkin » Sun May 02, 2004 6:39 pm

In 1976, Winnipeg closed the busy intersection Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic, forcing downtown office workers into an underground mall. Some blame the closure for killing the downtown above-ground. But now the city is taking a second look at the intersection. The possible future of Portage and Main was revealed Friday morning as the City Crossing contest announced the winners of its competition to redesign the intersection.


Competition entries
http://canada.archiseek.com/unbuilt/manitoba/winnipeg/portage_main/index.html
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Postby Andy6 » Mon May 03, 2004 6:46 pm

You haven't given us your views on this yet. In my opinion, just about anything would help, and I don't think it's necessary to re-open the crosswalks (or all of them) to have a good effect. The best that one can do in the short term is (1) to make the area more appealing to office workers and (2) to make it less hostile to the tourists, who really do want to see Portage and Main (it's still fairly well known across Canada). The proposal seems to accomplish that. Still, it sounds to me that the City is already trying to distance itself from the results of the competition.

The problem with reopening the crosswalks (should I say 'zebra crossings'?) is that they will really slow traffic down. This is a problem with Winnipeg's semi-radial street plan: Portage and Main is the central intersection of the city--it's not easy to avoid by means of alternate routes. Another problem is the potential of damaging the trade of businesses that located in the underground concourse in good faith. So far, two of the leading revitalization ideas for Portage (this and the Hydro tower) seem to be jeopardizing a couple of dozen of those small businesses that have actually hung on downtown all these years.
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Postby MG » Mon May 03, 2004 7:16 pm

I'm not familiar with the plan of the city but is it not possible to route even some of the traffic through other streets? To say that everything has to be routed through the central junction in the town seems a little unimaginative.
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Postby Andy6 » Tue May 04, 2004 2:47 am

Not to the extent needed. These are two vast 8-lane thoroughfares. The intersection was once billed (probably incorrectly but not implausibly) as the widest in the world. They are also the extensions of major provincial and national highways. There are obviously many parallel roads, particularly running E-W, but few of them continue out of the downtown to other parts of the city.

If you look at the centre of this photograph, all of the tall buildings are located on the intersection, even though they look as though they are a block or two apart:

Image

Here is the intersection from above (note ugly concrete planters to prevent pedestrian access):

Image

Looking north from one of the towers. Main Street is the well-lit and very broad road snaking northward:

Image

Looking SSE. The rectangular parking area to the right of the cable-stayed pedestrian bridge (between it and the roadway running off the right-centre of the picture) is the site of the Human Rights Museum (this has nothing to do with the topic but I'm enjoying looking at these photos):

Image

The underground concourse at P&M. It is a circle with two underground shopping areas (one small, one fairly large) extending out of it.

Image
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Postby MG » Thu May 06, 2004 12:48 am

Nice informative pictures. That is one very wide junction. The underground concourse is quite grim isn't it? Looking at the picture downwards, it is a pity that the building at the bottom left didn't built to the streetline - it would have defined the space better.

There must be some way of even cutting traffic down by 20 percent. 20 would allow for a lane in each direction to be closed down and widen the public areas.
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Re: Portage and Main, Winnipeg

Postby Shad_23 » Mon Jan 30, 2006 2:29 am

For downtown Winnipeg the Portage and Main crossing, that would be close to impossible, there is always a flood of traffic pushing through there, re-routing traffic would just cause wayy more clutter in any other piece of road in that central location..
The only opinion I could possible give for that crossing so pedistrians especially tourists who want to see the famous Portage and Main intersection, would be a sky-walk.. which seems to be very popular in many City's. Winnipeg has them also, and I think we are just getting use to this idea. But if you were to have a sky-walk passing over this interesection, it would keep traffic flow the same, and tourists would still have the advantage of actually looking around (dodling if not anything). Plus a skywalk would create a much better birdseye view of what's going on.. Obviously the skywalk would have to be glass-encased for a great view of this renouned intersection..

Thank-you for the quick read,
-=Shad=-
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