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Minister says additional $7 million invested in improving highway infrastructure

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- Tom Rideout, Minister of Transportation and Works, recently reiterated the government's positi...

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. — Tom Rideout, Minister of Transportation and Works, recently reiterated the government’s position regarding the investment of additional revenue gained from the Motor Vehicle Registration program.

“The entire $7 million in additional revenue has been reinvested in this department’s 2004-05 Provincial Roads Improvement Program. The Provincial Roads Improvement Program for 2004-05 is valued at $30 million. That represents a $7 million increase over and above the value of the roads program for 2003-04," Rideout said.

The previous administration failed to spend substantial amounts of provincial funds on our provincial highway network. Using federal funds, the focus over the last decade has been to upgrade and build roads to add capacity. However, the previous administration neglected to maintain the provincial highway system throughout the province, he added.

“Throughout the 1990s, a relatively small amount of provincial funding was allocated to the roads program. One year the allocation was as low as $4 million. This resulted in provincial roads being neglected and thus deteriorating. That is why our attention is now on maintaining our existing infrastructure,” said Rideout.

The focus of this year’s roads program is on preventative maintenance as opposed to new road construction. Preventative maintenance on existing infrastructure is far less costly than outright replacement or extensive repairs in the future. This position is supported by the National Research Council, which has indicated that replacement costs are actually 10 times greater than preventative maintenance costs.

“Safe highway infrastructure for the residents of our province is a top priority for this government,” said the minister. “We will continue to make strategic investments in our highway infrastructure.”

This year’s Provincial Roads Improvement Program provides funding for improving the provincial highway network, as well as maintenance on the Trans Canada Highway. It also provides funds for rehabilitation and replacement of bridges and culverts.

“Our government is also diligently working on an infrastructure strategy for the province,” said Minister Rideout. “This demonstrates government’s commitment to providing a safe and reliable highway infrastructure throughout the province.”

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