FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government will invest $233.2 million in buildings, equipment, bridges, highways and rural roads in 2014-15.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams made the announcement today while tabling the department's capital budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The provincial government will invest $4.5 million in geotechnical and archeological investigation, survey, property acquisition, design work and clearing to begin construction on Route 11 from Shediac to Saint-Grégoire, south of Bouctouche. Another $1.4 million will be allocated to resurface 3.5 kilometres of Route 11 in the Saint-Grégoire area.

"Our multi-year capital budget plan also earmarks further funding for Route 11 during the next two fiscal years," Williams said. "This funding will be $22 million in 2015-16 for ongoing planning and design and to start roadway and structure construction in the Shediac area; and $26 million in 2016-17 to continue construction."

Williams said upgrading Route 11 will be completed during the next 10 years, and federal funding support will be needed for the project. The most heavily travelled section from Shediac to Saint-Gregoire will be twinned, while a two-lane controlled access highway bypass will be constructed between Miramichi and Glenwood, and the existing alignment between Glenwood and Saint-Gregoire will be improved.

Williams said twinning all of Route 11 was estimated to cost upward of $1 billion.

"The approach we are taking will make the necessary upgrades at a cost of less than $500 million, while addressing capacity constraints and traffic flow as well as providing a safer and more efficient highway for New Brunswickers," he said.

The capital budget for the department breaks down as follows:

●    $48.9 million for permanent bridges;
●    $85.6 million for permanent highways;
●    $47.5 million for rural roads;
●    $31.2 million for the National Highway Program;
●    $10 million for public works and infrastructure; and
●    $10 million for the Vehicle Management Agency.

Within this funding, several highway and bridge projects will be undertaken:

●    completion of the Route 8 Nashwaak / Marysville bypass;
●    completion of twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway at the Quebec border;
●    continued work on the Route 11 Caraquet bypass;
●    continued work on Route 17 in the Black Brook area; and
●    the start of construction of a new Kouchibouguasis River Bridge in Saint-Louis-de-Kent.

A new 24-car ferry will also be built to serve Deer Island in the spring of 2015.

The department will continue to use the asset management system to identify its priorities and, in response to the auditor general's report, it will continue to invest in bridges.

"Year after year, our investment in bridges will increase substantially," Williams said. "We are being financially responsible by focusing most of the capital budget on rehabilitating existing infrastructure."

Williams also tabled the department's 2014-15 ordinary account budget of the department. Funding totalling $273.4 million will be used in the following ways:

●    $60.2 million for winter maintenance;
●    $53.3 million for summer highway, bridge and ferry maintenance;
●    $60.6 million for buildings and facilities management.;
●    $59.8 million for grants in lieu of municipal property taxes;
●    $20.2 million for the New Brunswick Highway Corporation;
●    $17.8 million for corporate services, policy and strategic development and district administration; and
●    $1.5 million for planning, design and engineering services for bridge and highway construction and property management.

"This year's operating budget reflects the department's ongoing transformation to a performance-based organization," Williams said. "We remain committed to finding cost and efficiency improvements while maintaining quality service to our clients."