WHEREAS rural municipalities are responsible for the control and management of their local road infrastructure including the bridges on those roads and are facing a crisis to find the funds to replace all the structures that are now due for replacement; and
WHEREAS the province is always encouraging municipalities to find innovative ways to solve infrastructure problems and save money; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta’s Local Road Bridge Program Funding Guidelines were created 20 years ago, in 1991, and technology and technique has evolved to include more cost effective and equally as safe methods of bridge replacement;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties commission a report to study, outline and evaluate alternate ideas, methods and theories that could address the high cost currently associated with the replacement of bridge structures as currently outlined by the Government of Alberta.
FURTHER IT BE RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties present this report to the Government of Alberta and urge them to change their funding guidelines to include alternative, more affordable options for bridge replacement on rural roads.
There have been four previous resolutions presented to the province from the AAMDC membership requesting the increase in funding for the Local Road Bridge Program (Resolutions 8-10S, 4-09S, 17-08S and 1-07F) and all of these resolutions have been met with the government denial for an increase in the budget for bridge repair and replacement.
This resolution acknowledges that the Government of Albert is unwilling to increase its funding support for bridge replacement, and is, instead, asking for a review of the guidelines put in place for the successful funding. Before this can be done, however, there needs to be an extended review and compilation of the options that exist for more economical replacement of bridges on rural roads and identification of fish bearing streams/navigable waters. In cases where bridges were built over 50 years ago, low-level crossings, portable “jim-bob” bridges (technology taken from the oil and forestry industry) and many other advances in technology and technique can be put to use to replace the bridges with a more cost efficient means while allowing more room in the funding program for other applicants.
This report would provide municipalities with options for replacing bridges that is more cost effective, easier to implement and foster an opportunity for knowledge sharing among our members.
Resolution 8-10S: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to increase the level of funding for the replacement and or rehabilitation of bridge structures on municipal roads to a level that reflects the needs of the community, agricultural sector and local industry; and FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the existing Guidelines and Procedures (GAP-01) for Municipal Bridge Structure Funding be increased substantially from the present level of $22 million per year to address this growing infrastructure deficit.
Resolution 4-09S: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to immediately expand funding to the Local Road Bridge Program to utilize the “shovel ready” local road bridge projects, representing local projects that are labour intensive and can provide immediate employment and business activity benefits to the provincial and local economies.
Resolution 17-08S (expired): THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC urge Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation to not make any decisions on amending guidelines and procedures for bridge construction without input from all municipalities.
Alberta Transportation will be in contact with the AAMDC to confirm the plans for a review of the local Road Bridge Program. The review will be undertaken this spring and will involve AAMDC members. In the interim, the department will consider any bridge replacement option that meets the goal of allowing the department to ensure safety and protect infrastructure investment.
In 2012 the AAMDC partnered with Alberta Transportation to complete a collaborative review of the Local Road Bridge Program. The committee’s report recommended that alternative bridge standards be developed for low volume road bridges. Since the completion of the report, the Government of Alberta zero-funded the Local Road Bridge Program for 2013-14. With this loss of funding, bridge maintenance and replacements have now become an even larger financial challenge for municipalities.
In mid-2013, the AAMDC was invited by Alberta Transportation to participate in a technical committee looking at alternatives to increase cost efficiencies in bridge replacement on low volume roads. As of April 2014, the technical committee had established a draft of alternative design guidelines for low-volume local roads. The Government of Alberta currently has a tender out for the creation of specific engineering designs for low-volume local roads. It is hoped that the drafting of specific designs will commence in late 2014. This resolution is deemed Accepted in Principle contingent on the results of the project to develop new standards.