WHEREAS the Local Road Bridge Program is funded by the Province of Alberta to assist municipalities in addressing their bridge construction, rehabilitation and maintenance needs; and
WHEREAS Alberta Transportation maintains the Transportation Infrastructure Management System which contains an inventory of bridges titles “Existing Structures on Local Roads” which contains the current condition rating of each bridge; and
WHEREAS this local road bridge inventory contains a significant number of “shovel ready” projects where bridge repairs have been identified and/or designed by municipal governments, and have not proceeded due to lack of availability of provincial or municipal funding; and
WHEREAS the Governments of Alberta and Canada have announced their intentions to increase spending on infrastructure, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has identified the national transportation infrastructure deficit (including bridges) to be $21.7 billion;
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.
The Alberta Transportation’s Local Road Bridge Program currently has an annual budget of $25 million, subject to annual budget approval.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities report titled “Danger Ahead: The Coming Collapse of Canada’s Municipal Infrastructure” identified a national infrastructure deficit of $123-billion which includes “sub-deficits” for key categories of municipal infrastructure: water and waste water systems ($31 billion), transportation ($21.7 billion), transit ($22.8 billion), waste management ($7.7 billion) and community, recreational, cultural and social infrastructure ($40.2 billion).
Resolution 17-08S: 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.
Resolution 1-07F: 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 of bridges 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.
In the AAMDC’s Rural Transportation Funding Options Report released in 2006, the Local Bridge Program funding level was found insufficient to prevent further deterioration of bridge and culvert asseets. However, the recent infusion of funding through the Municipal Sustainabilty Initiative (MSI), the Building Canada Fund, the extension of the Gas Tax Agreement and newly announced economic stimulus funding from the Federal Government will inevitably have an impact on municipal infrastructure if appropriately allocated and applied.
Municipalities are responsible for the control and management of their local road infrastructure including the bridges on those roads. Alberta Transportation continues to provide funding for local bridge infrastructure through the Local Road Bridge Program (LRBP), which is a budgeted component under the Rural Transportation Partnerships. The budget for the LRBP has increased from $9 million in 2001/02 to $21 million in 2008/09. This funding level will continue into 2009/10.
The local road bridge funding program continues to be oversubscribed. However, municipalities may utilize other municipal infrastructure grant programs to address their bridge infrastructure needs, including:
• Rural Transportation Grant – $34 million in 2009/10
• Alberta Municipal Infrastructure Program – $485.7 million in 2009/10
• Federal Gas Tax (New Deal for Cities and Communities) – $190.8 million in 2009/10
• Municipal Sustainability Initiative (Capital funding) – $350 million in 2009/10
The ministry is attempting to increase the budget for the LRBP through the Capital Planning Initiative; however, there are many competing pressures on the governmental limited Capital Plan budget.
Alberta Transportation has worked to maintain local bridge program funding as provincial revenues have decreased. With the announcement of stimulus funds made available in 2009, bridge repairs were able to be applied for through economic stimulus dollars from the federal government, meant to address ‘shovel-ready’ projects. While stimulus dollars were not targeted specifically at local bridges, it is appreciated that these projects were considered next to other road projects for funding dollars.