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WHEREAS rural municipalities are the economic drivers of Alberta with their natural resources; and
WHEREAS primary resource extraction activities are putting significant stress on highway road infrastructure in rural Alberta; and
WHEREAS highways in rural Alberta must be improved in order to ensure the safe and efficient movement of natural resources and people;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties lobby the Government of Alberta to improve the condition of highway infrastructure in rural Alberta by setting them as a highest priority level for the province.
The highway network in rural Alberta is a vital contributor to the economic well-being of the province. These roads link resources to refineries and suppliers to buyers, and therefore it is essential that they be upgraded and maintained to a standard that satisfies current and future traffic needs.
Due to increased use for industrial purposes, rural Alberta highways are being damaged. When industrial development occurs that affects the condition of, or requires the improvement of, a highway, the provincial government must be responsible for bringing the road to an acceptable standard and work to ensure it will be placed at the highest level of priority to ensure industrial and agricultural goods and products can reach markets in a timely and efficient manner.
6-14F: Improvement of Highways in Alberta
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties lobby the Government of Alberta to improve the condition of highway infrastructure in Alberta.
DEVELOPMENTS: While the AAMDC appreciates Alberta Transportation’s efforts to use overweight vehicle permitting fees in part to maintain Alberta’s highways, this does not comprise a strategy to improve the condition of highway infrastructure in Alberta, but rather a method of requiring those most responsible for damaging it to contribute a higher proportion of maintenance costs than other Albertans.
Despite the lack of detail in the direct response to the resolution, Alberta Transportation’s 2015-16 business plan states that:
the increasing number of larger and wider commercial vehicle loads brings the need to consider the associated impacts on highway network infrastructure and traffic operations. Alberta has a large highway network of more than 31,000 kilometers that is not sustainable in the current context. These challenges will be addressed by engaging in strategic approaches developed through transportation asset management processes.
The AAMDC finds this acknowledgement encouraging and will be closely monitoring Alberta Transportation’s efforts to develop and implement a strategic plan for improving Alberta’s highway networks. Currently, the status of this resolution is Accepted in Principle, with the potential for this to change based on the implementation of strategic approaches.
Transportation: Alberta Transportation looks at road improvements throughout the whole province to provide safe and sustainable highway infrastructure for road users. The ministry has systems in place looking at roadways, and decisions are made based on a number of technical factors including condition of the roads and a cost-benefit analysis. Geographic location within Alberta is not taken into account.
Transportation is investing nearly $980 million on highway rehabilitation and over $1.1 billion on highway preservation and maintenance (roads and bridges) from 2015/16 to 2017/18.
While the Government of Alberta response acknowledges that a number of technical factors are taken into consideration when prioritizing highway maintenance and improvements, the response does not address the link between heavy industrial traffic and premature deterioration of rural highways highlighted in the resolution.
Provincial funding tools for municipally-managed rural roads such as the Well Drilling Equipment Tax and the Resource Road Program indicate that industrial activity in rural areas does rapidly strain rural roads. With this in mind, a similarly focused approach to addressing provincially-managed rural roads damaged by industrial traffic would strengthen the province’s transportation system. This resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.