Albertas highways get slice of infrastructure budget

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EDMONTON, Alta. — The Alberta government will invest $18.2 billion over the next three years in capital for the provinces growing infrastructure needs, which includes $4.6 billion for the provincial highway system.

Premier Ed Stelmach revealed his first budget as the provinces top government official and the rest of the infrastructure funding will be spread around to municipalities, schools, health facilities, post-secondary projects and other infrastructure.

“It’s no secret that Alberta is growing dramatically and that new and better infrastructure is needed to accommodate that growth,” said Treasury Board President Lloyd Snelgrove. “This investment supports government’s overall growth management plan and addresses Alberta’s increasing infrastructure and maintenance needs.”

Altogether, government will invest nearly $1.4 billion this year and more than $4.6 billion over three years to build, rehabilitate and enhance provincial highways and bridges.

Work will include continued twinning of sections of Hwy. 63 south of Fort McMurray and Hwy. 43 north to Grande Prairie, continued work on ring roads in Edmonton and Calgary, improvement of roads in key resource development areas, and paving about 2,500 kilometres of highway.

“This significant funding will go a long way toward expanding the capacity of Alberta’s highway system to address growth pressures, which is one of the mandates given to me by the premier,” said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette. “By addressing the province’s transportation infrastructure needs, we are also increasing traffic safety for all Albertans.”

Overall the infrastructure funding is a 37% increase in capital spending over last year’s three-year Capital Plan and reflects the increased need for infrastructure as Alberta continues to grow rapidly.

Capital spending in the first year will be approximately $6.7 billion-almost four times the per-capita average of what other provinces spend on infrastructure, according to government officials. Spending in the second and third years will be $6.5 billion and $5 billion, respectively.

The costs of construction are increasing and the government has made provisions in the 2007-10 Capital Plan to address costs of approved projects that are higher than first estimated due to inflation in the construction industry.

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