The Daly Overpass is among the items at the top of Brandon’s list of infrastructure priorities.
When it comes to Brandon’s pressing infrastructure needs, city manager Scott Hildebrand says he continues to lobby both the provincial and federal governments for support.
The Eighth Street bridge is among the items at the top of Brandon’s list of infrastructure priorities. (FILE PHOTO)
The goal is to tap into the federal New Building Canada Plan as well as provincial grants for what Hildebrand calls the city’s "needs list" rather than a "wish list."
"The more they know about the projects, the better chance of getting them … higher in the queue," Hildebrand said. "So that’s kind of our strategy."
Over the past few weeks Hildebrand has been in touch via email as well as over the phone with government representatives doing whatever he can to "sell Brandon projects."
"Some of the responses I’m getting is we’re still a little bit too early because we still don’t know the details of the new infrastructure program, but a lot of them are happy to see we’re ahead of the game and that we’re starting to ask questions," he said.
In August, the city submitted a list of infrastructure priorities to former Brandon-Souris MP Merv Tweed’s office. That list remains the same. However, Hildebrand has added more detail to provide a better understanding of the city’s requirements.
Topping the list is bridge expansion/upgrades. The Daly Overpass, First Street bridge and Eighth Street bridge have been the focus of some analysis and discussion.
"We can’t look at any one of them in isolation because they’re all kind of a core roadway that makes sense going north and south," Hildebrand said. "When we look at one, we need to look at them all."
The need to expand the Daly Overpass to four lanes is apparent, especially during the bottleneck situations. Plans for replacing the aging Eighth Street bridge have been in the works since about 2010. The bridge is a combination of the original structure built in 1934 and a newer portion constructed in 1968. According to the 2009 Inspection Report Update, the structure exhibits areas of "severe deterioration."
Options for the Eighth Street bridge outlined in a preliminary design report include rehabilitating the bridge, rebuilding the bridge in the same location, angling the bridge so that it lines up with Ninth Street and relocating the bridge so it lines up with Fifth Street.
The options range from $20 million to $34 million.
Airport expansion and upgrades are also on top of the list. Hildebrand said the city is doing some short-term modifications to expand the holding area and allow access to the bathrooms once passengers are in the secured area.
"We’ve been extremely busy at the airport and in order to make sure flights are on time, we want to make sure that that’s not one of the reasons why they’re not," Hildebrand said. "Our crews are working on that right now."
As far as the larger redevelopment plan, Hildebrand said the city is still in the estimating phase with a goal of beginning construction at the start of 2014. Upgrades would likely include a new baggage carousel, updated arrivals hall, new furniture, new lighting, updated mechanical systems, etc.
Addressing overland flooding is "a big one" on the list, as heavy rain storms over the summer caused problems within the city.
Upgraded storm sewers and flow of water within the city would be a way to alleviate the concerns of Brandon residents, Hildebrand said.
Other infrastructure needs include a water/sewer lift station for the North Hill, as the city prepares for major development; a new recreation complex and upgrades to the Sportsplex.
Hildebrand said the city is now waiting to hear details and criteria for the federal infrastructure program.
"It’s getting closer and we keep hearing rumblings about it," he said. "So once we have a clear criteria on what that program looks like and how it’s going to be phased, we then can take some of these projects and start slotting them in to match that program."
As announced in the speech from the throne last month, the federal government plans to invest $70 billion in federal, provincial, territorial and community infrastructure over the next decade.
A $10-billion Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Fund was also announced that will support projects of national, regional and local significance in communities across the country in a broader range of categories including highways, public transit, drinking water, wastewater, connectivity and broadband, and innovation.
Hildebrand said with the pre-planning and preparation the city is doing, officials hope to be "first out of the gate" once the funding is available.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 2, 2013