WHEREAS Alberta Transportation has a strong working relationship with municipalities on the Local Road Bridge Program; and
WHEREAS the proposed changes would cause enormous financial burden for municipalities; and
WHEREAS the proposed changes would cause enormous amounts of additional municipal staff to maintain files;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties call upon the Government of Alberta to ensure a second round of consultation is held after hearing data from the Committee by going to the region for a vote.
Alberta Transportation has been looking after the Local Road Bridge Program for many years. The proposed changes to the Local Road Bridge Program would move control and liability to the municipalities and may in fact lead to decreased provincial budgets for bridge funding. This has already been seen with solid waste, drainage and environmental. In addition, the “insurance element” would be removed where assistance to municipalities that happened to experience bridge failures in any particular year get emergency assistance.
The liability associated with these bridges, many of which are 50-75 years old, will increase exponentially over time, yet the proposed funding (already inadequate) is unlikely to increase at the same rate as the need for money will.
8-10S Provincial Funding for Municipal Bridge Structures: 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.
The recommendation of the review committee was to recognize municipal autonomy over local bridges by transitioning to an annual funding model for the Local Road Bridge Program. This is consistent with current legislation that states that the direction, control, and management of these bridges lies with municipalities.
The collaborative review recommendation affects the distribution of funds, but not the actual amount of funds. Municipal staff already prepare funding requests to Alberta Transportation and manage the delivery of bridge replacements once funding is approved. Alberta Transportation staff review project requests and prioritize them for available funding. The recommended change should not directly affect the financial burden for municipalities. The need to maintain files has always been required under this program.
Alberta Transportation staff are willing to participate in further collaborative committee work to review feedback from members of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.
The AAMDC has assigned this resolution the status of Intent Not Met. Since this resolution was passed in spring 2013, the Local Road Bridge Program became zero-funded in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 provincial budgets. This directly shifts the entire financial burden of bridge maintenance and replacement to municipalities. Support through government funding and reduced bureaucratic process while maintaining needed safety is critical. The AAMDC was pleased to have collaborated with Alberta Transportation on a committee that has produced local road bridge design guidelines and standard design drawings for local road bridges. These guidelines and drawings will assist rural municipalities in constructing low-cost bridges. The AAMDC will monitor the entire bridge issue holistically going forward.
As funding for the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program has been renewed in the Government of Alberta’s 2015-16 Capital Plan, the AAMDC anticipates that renewed discussions around how to distribute local road bridge funding will take place in the near future.