Manitoba’s premier and infrastructure minister teamed up to sell its plan to spend $589 million on roads and bridges as a long-term plan during a Winnipeg press conference Wednesday.
In that plan, 80 bridges and 200 roads will be repaired or reconstructed because of the flood of 2011, and $50 million will deal with flood-damaged infrastructure.
In all, 2,400 kilometres of roadway will be repaired and an increased emphasis on constructing a road on the east side of Lake Winnipeg to Manitoba’s north will take place, Infrastructure Minister Steve Ashton said, while being backed by Premier Greg Selinger.
Of that proposed $589 million, $49 million will be raised from the proposed gasoline tax hike of 2.5 cents per litre of gasoline, three cents on each litre of diesel. Money collected from those increases will be geared towards infrastructure spending.
“We now spend triple the amount on infrastructure that we did in 1999,” Ashton said.
Selinger said the spending will make a difference in dealing with 175 bridges, 2,400 kilometres of roadway repairs.
“Since 2007, that’s 9,700 kilometres of roadways that have been revitalized,” Selinger said.
“We are also giving a record amount of transfers to municipalities this year, $262 million, in addition to this $589 million. That’s an additional $21 million for the City of Winnipeg and $9.7 million for other municipalities.”
After several media requests for clarification on infrastructure spending, a government spokeswoman said the $589 million slated for infrastructure renewal had to be pulled from several line items of the budget, and not from the line items relating to capital expenditures, which showed the government was spending $100 million less on those line items.
“MIT has the second-highest increase in spending in this budget,” Ashton said. “The line item you are looking at includes construction of jails, the major purchase of water bombers and also the (Red River) Floodway expansion. If you look at the overall, highway capital line items show we are investing very significantly.”
Neither Ashton or Selinger could say how much of that spending is to be allocated for western Manitoba roads and bridges, adding they will be travelling to Westman in upcoming days to present those figures.
When asked about the Waskada/Coulter bridge on Highway 254, Ashton said, “We are more than aware of the real inconvenience that has been created there.”
“It is a priority and we are working as quickly as possible on it, but we have to move as quickly as possible,” Ashton said. “But we need a full engineering assessment and need to get all of the approvals. We will be into a rebuilding and reconstruction mode on our bridges not this construction season, but this year.”
What’s in it for Westman?
The following western Manitoba projects were listed in a government press release as part of the $589-million infrastructure renewal commitment revealed in the 2012-13 budget.
• Minor bridge repair on the Trans-Canada Highway at the Assiniboine River west of Brandon;
• Building a three-kilometre service road in Brandon parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway;
•Pave three kilometres of shoulder on the Trans-Canada east of Douglas;
• Pave 18 km of the Trans-Canada east of Sidney;
• Replacing a bridge on Highway 2 over Jackson Creek west of Sinclair;
• Paving 12 km of Highway 2 between Sinclair and Reston;
• Paving 22 km of Highway 10 north of Minto;
• Continuing reconstruction of Highway 10 north of Brandon;
• Paving 24 km of Highway 16 east of Gladstone and
18 km between Binscarth and Foxwarren;
• Replace a bridge on Highway 34 across the Gillespie Drain south
• Continue construction
of Highway 110 (Eastern Access)
• Repairing a bridge on Highway 250 at the Assiniboine River north
• Paving 10 km of Highway 340 between Wawanesa and Shilo.
» Brandon Sun