With the onset of colder weather, a record year for provincial highway construction is wrapping up, having created an estimated 6,650 jobs and boosting the Manitoba economy by an estimated $678.6 million in 2015-16. This announcement was made by Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.
“This year’s investment of $585 million in major projects involved significant upgrading of provincial highways in every part of the province including new roads connecting First Nations communities along the east side of Lake Manitoba,” Minister Ashton said. “When we invest in highways and bridges, we’re investing in good jobs and a stronger economy for all Manitobans.”
The minister noted the work involved:
- more than 2,700 kilometres of highway projects,
- 1.4 million tonnes of asphalt pavement,
- more than 900 km of surface treatments,
- approximately two million tonnes of gravel, and
- 65 structures have been worked on or will commence this year.
Combining last construction season’s investment of $535 million in major projects with this season’s investment of $585 million is expected to bring total work on major highway and bridges to more than $1 billion for the 2014 and 2015 construction seasons, Minister Ashton said. Flood repairs continue in 2015-16 for the significant $80 million in damages from the 2014 flooding in southwest Manitoba that damaged highways and more than 80 bridges and structures, the minister added.
“These record investments in our highways and jobs across the province are made possible through Manitoba’s $5.5-billion commitment to rebuilding our core infrastructure,” said Minister Ashton. “Independent analysis of our five-year plan estimates our investments will create 58,900 jobs and that each $1 invested in the plan will boost Manitoba’s economy by $1.16.”
“Investments in major improvements to Manitoba’s highway system, such as the new intersection at PTH 59 and the Perimeter Highway, are welcome news to truckers who cover thousands of kilometres every year,” said Terry Shaw, executive director, Manitoba Trucking Association. “But equally important are the smaller investments in roads and bridges across the province that enhances the web of commercial routes that allow businesses across the province to engage in critical economic activity. It’s also important to note that these improvements allow the general motoring public to enjoy increased connectivity on higher quality pathways.”
The minister said Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) is a strong proponent of the government’s Indigenous procurement initiative. During the last five years, MIT has had between $10 and $16 million annually in Indigenous participation in the province’s highway construction and winter road contracts, much of which is from communities in northern Manitoba, the minister added.
“We encourage contractors to work with First Nations across the province to hire labourers, equipment operators, Indigenous construction companies, accommodations, and construction materials and supplies,” Minister Ashton said. “The work experience and other economic activities have significant benefits for Indigenous communities.”
Although the annual road repair season is drawing to a close, motorists are reminded to slow down and drive safely when they see constructions signs and flaggers at the roadside. Drivers are required to reduce speeds to specific limits in construction zones under the Highway Traffic Act.
A list of some the major provincial road, highway and bridge projects in the 2015-16 construction season can be found online.