Federal and provincial governments announce about $82 million for highway repairs

Bernadette Jordan poses with Joe Hargrave in Prince Albert on march 11, 2019 following a joint federal-provincial announcement of over $80 million for highway improvements. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The federal and provincial governments will work together to repave about 259 km of highway.

Bernadette Jordan, federal Minister of Rural Economic Development joined Prince Albert MLA and Minister of Crown Investments Joe Hargrave at the Ministry of Highways shop in the north end of the city Monday to make the joint announcement.

The project is worth about $82 million, with $40.2 million coming from the Government of Canada’s New Building Canada fund and the remainder coming from the provincial government.

The improvements include work along 15 different stretches of highways 1, 3, 4,6,7, 10, 11, 14, 16, 33 and 39.

The highways were selected based on criteria that included road condition, safety and traffic counts. Work will start this year.

“Today’s announcement will greatly benefit communities in rural Saskatchewan, especially the businesses that rely on the province’s highway systems to move their goods to customers,” Jordan said.

The announcement came during Jordan’s first visit to Saskatchewan since taking on the rural economic development portfolio in January.

“It’s exciting for me to get out into rural communities in Saskatchewan,” she said.

Bernadette Jordan speaks to reporters after announcing $40 million in federal dollars for Saskatchewan highway improvements on March 11, 2019 in Prince Albert. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

“We recognize that rural challenges are different, and transportation and highways are one of the key drivers in their economies. Making this investment today is something we think is significant in making sure that we continue to keep those rural economies vibrant.”

Hargrave said the joint project is important because it helps support export-driven industries such as forestry and agriculture.

“Our key industries … all rely on our roads,” he said.

“Much of this economic activity takes place in rural and remote areas of the province. Highway 3, which will benefit from the announcement today, is a prime example of this. This highway supports both the forestry industry and the agricultural sector.”

Hargrave also spoke about how highways are important to help sustain a good quality of life.

“Our population has grown … but we still have a relatively small population spread over a vast area. We rely on our highways to get to school go to work access services like health care and remain connected to family and friends.”

He indicated that more of that commitment to infrastructure, such as highways, would be seen in the upcoming provincial government, set to be delivered on March 20.

Joe Hargrave speaks during a joint funding announcement in Prince Albert on March 11, 2019.

Jordan said the funding was a small piece of Ottawa’s $180-billion 12-year commitment to improving all sorts of infrastructure nation-wide. Priorities are set by the provinces, and funded projects depend on that list of priorities and on federal criteria. Agreements have been signed with each of the nation’s provinces and territories.

“It’s not just highways,” she said.

“We have bridges, clean water and wastewater projects, but highways are definitely a priority whether it’s a transportation corridor, for exports particularly. We’ve provided a number of projects in Saskatchewan so far, and there is a lot more to come in the next few months. Hargrave is hoping to see Jordan again for funding announcements of some of his government’s priorities.

“We look at a number of things,” he said. “We have a lot of requests in. We’ve got requests in about the (new Prince Albert hospital), we’ve got some requests in about connectivity for telephone and internet — those are all key projects that hopefully we can work jointly together with to get happening.

“Hopefully the minister is back here frequently to make announcements.”