WHEREAS rural municipalities are the economic drivers of Alberta with their agricultural production and natural resources; and
WHEREAS resource roads and bridges in Alberta must be maintained in order to ensure safe and efficient movement of farm commodities, natural resources, and people; and
WHEREAS the 2014 provincial budget includes no funding for a number of grant programs that are essential to maintaining transportation infrastructure in rural municipalities;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties lobby the Government of Alberta to reinstate funding for the Resource Road Program and the Local Road Bridge Program in the 2015 provincial budget.
The Resource Road Program and Local Road Bridge Program were both zero-funded in the 2013 provincial budget. Further, in 2014 these two essential programs were again zero-funded. This has had a significant impact on rural infrastructure/transportation networks. Previously, the Resource Road Program was funded at $31 million; the Local Road Bridge Program was funded at $26 million.
Agricultural producers and natural resource industries require roads and bridges that can accommodate the volume of heavy traffic that these industries generate. Many rural municipalities have limited funding. Maintenance and rebuilding of both roads and bridges is now problematic because of the zero-funding of these programs.
There are some 8500 bridges for which rural municipalities have responsibility. Bridges throughout rural Alberta are at the end of their lifespan. Without funding in place some bridges may have to be closed.
The road and bridge infrastructure deficit continues to grow. Safe and efficient movement of farm commodities, natural resources, and people require sound infrastructure.
4-13S: Local Road Bridge Program
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.
DEVELOPMENTS: The AAMDC deems the government response to be Unsatisfactory. Since this resolution was passed in spring 2013, the Local Road Bridge Program became zero-funded in the 2013-14 provincial budget and continued to be zero-funded in the 2014-15 budget. 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 is pleased to be part of a committee to review bridge design standards for local roads and the funding structure for the Local Road Bridge Program, and will monitor the entire bridge issue holistically going forward.
3-11F: Alternative Bridge Structures and Eligibility for Funding
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.
DEVELOPMENTS: 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.
Transportation: Alberta Treasury Board and Finance will be in the best position to decide where funding should go based on the current fiscal restraints and the upcoming Budget 2015.
Treasury Board and Finance: Alberta Treasury Board and Finance will continue to work in partnership with our government colleagues and stakeholders to determine sustainable funding solutions. Requests for additional funding, at this time, will not be approved.
In the 2015-16 provincial budget, the Government of Alberta allotted $100 million towards the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP), which includes the Resource Road Program and Local Road Bridge Program, in its five-year capital plan. $35 million has been contributed to STIP in 2017-18, with an additional $30 million targeted in 2018-19 and $35 million in 2019-20. This resolution has been assigned a status of Accepted.