Hon. Roger Melanson
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
2015-2016 Capital Budget Estimates
Hon. Roger Melanson
Mr. Chairman, as Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI), I am pleased to deliver my department’s capital estimates in the House today. These estimates reflect our renewed commitment to invest in infrastructure and help move New Brunswick forward.
There is no doubt our infrastructure needs to be rehabilitated. The Auditor General has raised concerns that New Brunswick’s roads, bridges and other public infrastructure are falling into serious disrepair.
We support the Auditor General’s recommendations. Investing in infrastructure will produce savings in the long-term and encourage business development, trade and travel in New Brunswick. It will also ensure our infrastructure remains safe for public use.
We recognize that investments in infrastructure are a great way to boost the economy, both in the short-term through immediate job creation, and in the long-term through the building of strategic infrastructure to support economic development.
In making these investments, we will follow through with our commitment to maintain our infrastructure more effectively by fully implementing an asset management plan to make strategic, evidenced-based decisions.
As the Auditor General noted in her 2013 report, and it bears repeating, if additional investments are not made today, the costs will become much higher as we continue to delay badly needed repairs.
Asset management is a crucial tool to help our government keep spending in line, while making much-needed infrastructure improvements. It will enable us to strategically plan for the long-term benefit of our infrastructure within our financial means, effectively enhancing the safety of our roads, bridges and public buildings for New Brunswickers.
We will also establish the Strategic Infrastructure Initiative to make calculated investments which will create jobs, facilitate partnerships, improve safety and save tax dollars in the long-term.
Mr. Chairman, I’m very proud that the first projects to receive funding under the new Strategic Infrastructure Initiative are being announced as part of DTI’s capital budget. Our budget sends a clear message of our commitment to invest in our roads and bridges, as well as energy efficiency in public buildings, and renewable energy initiatives.
For major or large-scale projects, we will be focusing on maximizing partnerships and leveraging other sources of funding to improve our infrastructure and move New Brunswick forward.
For example, we intend to partner with the federal government under the New Building Canada Fund to cost share work on Route 11 to improve safety and promote the efficient movement of goods and people along this important trade corridor. We also plan to leverage other funding for further rehabilitation of the Centennial Bridge at Miramichi.
I am pleased to announce the capital budget for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure in 2015-2016 totals $409.5 million.
The majority of this funding will be focused on maintaining our existing infrastructure.
Our asset management system estimates that deferred maintenance work is costing the province an additional $28 million per year.
Delayed work leads to costly deterioration of our infrastructure and poor service to taxpayers. It is not the best or most cost efficient way to take care of our transportation network.
Mr. Chairman, during 2015-2016, we will also be working to complete a number of projects already underway such as the Route 17 diversion and upgrades and the building of a new ferry for Deer Island.
We will continue work on the Route 11 Caraquet Bypass and the Kouchibouquacis Bridge No. 1 at St. Louis-de-Kent.
And, we plan to commence the twinning of Route 11 from Route 15 to the Shediac River.
This year’s capital budget will include:
- $78.7 million for bridges;
- $214.4 million for highways;
- $52 million for federal/provincial cost sharing programs.
- $25 million for provincially-designated highways in municipalities.
- $25.4 million for public works and infrastructure; and
- $14 million for the Vehicle Management Agency.
Within this funding, I note a $16.2 million increase over the 2014-2015 budget for a total of $25 million for provincially-designated highways in municipalities. I would like to note that this is the most money ever invested in provincially-designated highways in municipalities, which will support infrastructure renewal and job creation in cities, towns and villages around New Brunswick. Where possible, projects will be cost-shared with municipalities and the federal government.
As well, funding for the Vehicle Management Agency has increased by $4 million over the 2014-2015 budget, mainly to support renewal of the province’s snow plow and school bus fleet.
Key highway investments for the coming construction season will include:
- Route 11 Caraquet bypass: $20 million;
- Route 11 from Route 15 to the Shediac River, $19.2 million;
- Route 17, diversion and upgrades in the Black Brook area near St. Quentin, $5.4 million; and
- Hanwell Road upgrades in Fredericton, $1.8 million.
As well, we will be resurfacing 695 kilometers of chip seal roads and placing 400 kilometers of asphalt surface during the coming construction season. Locations will be identified in a transparent manner using the asset management system.
Mr. Chairman, we will be continuing several major bridge projects in the 2015 construction season, while other important bridge work will commence, including:
- Kouchibouguacis River Bridge in St. Louis-de-Kent, $6.5 million;
- Centennial Bridge at Miramichi, Phase 2 rehabilitation, $6 million;
- Southwest Miramichi Bridge in Doaktown, $4 million;
- Narrows Bridge on Route 695 in Cambridge Narrows, $4 million;
- Nashwaak River Bridge, No. 1 in Fredericton, $4 million;
- Long Creek Bridge No. 2 at Coles Island, $2.5 million;
- Richibucto River Bridge No. 5 at Harcourt, $2 million;
- Reversing Falls Bridge in Saint John, $2 million;
- Benjamin River Bridge No. 1 on Route 134 near Charlo, $1.5 million;
- Kennebecasis Bridge No. 2 in Hampton, $1 million; and
- Regent Street underpass upgrades in Fredericton, $1 million.
Our department is also responsible for public works and infrastructure. From within our capital budget, investments for this sector will include:
- $10 million in capital improvements for various government buildings;
- $1.6 million to continue with the Petitcodiac River Restoration.
As I mentioned, this capital budget also includes funding to improve energy efficiency in public buildings. An investment of over $10 million will facilitate the use of renewable energy by converting public buildings to biomass heating systems and help us make strategic investments in energy retrofits.
These investments will not only reduce operating costs, but will also stimulate the economy, provide ongoing local jobs, and support greening by greatly reducing emissions.
Mr. Chairman, these estimates provide a broad outline of our capital budget commitments for 2015-2016.
Other departments will be presenting their individual capital projects as part of their own estimates.
I look forward to the coming year as we work to invest in infrastructure and support our province’s economic recovery.
We will continue to invest wisely in the coming years in the infrastructure we need to move New Brunswick forward and help our economy grow.
The capital budget process acts on our platform commitment to develop a multi-year capital plan by projecting investments that will be made through to 2018-2019. Work has also begun toward developing a 10-year capital plan.
Throughout our mandate, we will continue to focus on infrastructure investments to create jobs, improve our fiscal situation and make life better for New Brunswickers.
I would now welcome questions on our capital estimates.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.