By Charles Lefebvre
Officials in Cypress County are hoping to see funds from a recently restored provincial program trickle down to the region.
This week, the province announced it will be restoring funding for the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program, a program which provides funding for municipalities to make key repairs to infrastructure. The funding for the program was cut in 2013 by the Progressive Conservative government.
“It’s a program that has primarily benefited rural municipalities and smaller centres,” said Brian Mason, minister of transportation and infrastructure, who was in Medicine Hat to make an announcement for its transit program on Tuesday. “It will help them with their roads and bridges, it will help them expand and improve their local airports, and many of these municipalities bear the brunt of heavy resource-based traffic, which damages the road, and the fund will allow them to repair and maintain their roadways that do take a lot of punishment from heavy resource trucks.”
Darcy Geigle, reeve of Cypress County, is welcoming the return of STIP funding.
“It’s something that I think every municipality can use,” he said. “All the infrastructure is aging and the prices to replace these things are huge and there is not too many around that can afford it. It’s good news, as long as some of it dwindles down to southern Alberta.”
Geigle says an example of a project which the region could benefit from is the Sandy Point bridge on Highway 41.
“You can’t get the big loads through because the bridge is too short,” he said. “That’s definitely one that would help in a regional way.
“Along with that, we need to improve anything from the Wild Horse border through to Highway 1.”
Mason says municipalities will be able to make plans submitting items for the program starting next year, with the program officially returning in the 2017-2018 fiscal year. A total of $100 million will be made available between 2017 and 2019.
In addition to the return of the program, the NDP government’s budget is investing $4.6 billion in road and bridge projects throughout the province, including highway expansion and safety upgrades.
Note: this post formerly said the article was by Tim Kalinowski and has been changed to correctly state the author is Charles Lefebvre.