Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/4/2012 (3385 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Arthur-Virden Progressive Conservative MLA Larry Maguire panned a government announcement of $90 million of infrastructure spending in Westman an attempt to deflect attention from an unpopular provincial budget.
The Brandon announcement, attended by Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton, was made at a press event the Brandon Sun was not invited to until the event was in progress. However, a press release issued after the event listed off projects that are slated to be addressed in the 2012-13 budget year.
That release differs from one issued April 18, following a press conference where Premier Greg Selinger and Ashton announced the $589-million provincial infrastructure plan.
"I think they may have missed the gun by not having all the projects listed at the same time," Maguire said. "I think it shows the desperation of the government in its attempts to deflect attention from a bad budget and the fact the premier is raising taxes he said he wouldn’t raise. He’s doing it on the backs of farmers, senior citizens, and daycare users and with a 2.5 cent a litre gas tax, all consumers. He said he’d balance the books by 2014 without raising taxes and he’s only got two years left and is getting desperate."
Tuesday’s government press release stated $50 million of the promised $589 million for roads and bridges will go to repair flood-damaged infrastructure, including 20 bridges or overpasses. However, money has to be spent to repair work that wasn’t done properly the first time, Maguire said.
"Now they will have to repave a chunk of the Trans-Canada Highway between Virden and Griswold because they used the wrong pavement in there," Maguire said. "They said they used shale in the pavement and it was too slick and semis couldn’t stay on the road a few months after they laid the stuff. They have a history here of wasting money because they don’t design things properly."
The Coulter bridge on Highway 251 was also addressed in the release and Ashton reportedly met with affected area residents in Brandon on Tuesday morning.
"They are going to build a massive bridge in Coulter and I have no qualms with way that bridge will be built and neither do the residents," Maguire said.
"The citizens just want a low-level crossing in the meantime and they want the government to give them the OK to come off the highway to get to the bridge they are putting across the narrow Souris River basin at that point."
Maguire said oil companies need some government approvals with the temporary crossing in order for their own insurance to be in effect when using the temporary single-span metal bridge.
"These approaches will be provincial approaches and will then go onto private land, just going by what I’m told, and will cross the river," Maguire said. "The government won’t guarantee anything until they see a plan, and those plans cost $20,000-$30,000. If they went and developed the plan to provincial specs and had the guarantee from the engineer that they’d do that, then would the government let them go ahead? No, because the government wants to see a plan first. There’s a Catch-22, where the local residents would be on the hook for $20,000 for the plans."
An engineer will prepare plans for a pair of low-level approaches and the bridge available, constructed in Alberta, has been licensed to be used in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, Maguire said.
"There is a business plan and some dollars being kicked around and the oil companies are losing millions on this right now with this thing," Maguire said. "They are willing to help, but there’s a level to what they will help at and the province can make this prohibitive if they want to, and that would continue to put people at risk when they use that terrible bypass they have to use now. The government could help these people by helping them design it so that they can go ahead and put a low-level crossing in there."