WHEREAS municipally-maintained roads and bridges are vital for the transportation of goods and services related to the continuation of Alberta’s strong economy; and
WHEREAS Alberta continues to experience growth requiring constant improvement and new construction of aging municipally-controlled bridges; and
WHEREAS the cost to construct or replace roads and bridges form a significant portion of rural municipal infrastructure deficits, ranging from $500,000 to $1 million per kilometer of road or bridge structure; and
WHEREAS the Local Road Bridge Program stream of the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program may be utilized to upgrade municipal bridges;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate to the Government of Alberta to substantially increase the funding available for the Local Road Bridge Program stream in the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program.
Rural roads and bridges are not only vital to local communities but serve as important arteries to help Alberta’s economy grow by connecting natural resources to national and international transportation corridors. Rural municipalities manage the majority of Alberta’s roads (77% or 173,226km) and bridges/culverts (61% or 8,468 km). At a cost of between $500,000 and $1 million to construct one kilometer of road and a similar cost to construct a bridge or culvert, the costs of managing transportation infrastructure form a significant portion of rural municipal expenses. Many of these bridges are currently beyond their useful life.
Resource roads, local road bridges and community airports are critical to the viability of rural communities and Alberta’s industrial and resource development. The Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) provides rural municipalities with a dedicated funding source for this infrastructure and should remain adequately funded and accessible to rural municipalities. While the 2023-2024 provincial budget included a modest increase in the STIP program from $35 to $43 million, it still falls well short of the need for rural bridge and infrastructure funding. The Local Road Bridge Program stream of the STIP grant program averaged $15.5 million in the previous two years.
Many rural municipalities work to properly monitor the age and condition of infrastructure and develop a long-term asset management plan for maintenance and replacement. To support continued long-term asset management practices and necessary infrastructure investment, appropriate provincial funding to enable rural municipalities to continue to manage and maintain infrastructure that supports the transportation network that keep Alberta’s economy and people moving. Given Alberta’s recent economic growth and the role of rural roads and bridges in supporting resource industries, STIP funding should be increased so that municipalities can continue to care for the majority of Alberta’s infrastructure, without increasing the financial burden on rural areas.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.