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Businesses, investment potential rely on road investment strategy: MHCA

The provincial strategy to improve roads across the province should concentrate on adding value, speed, efficiency and connectivity to the trade and commerce network, the MHCA says.

The point was made in an MHCA letter to Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler, who sought the industry’s engagement and response to a provincial survey on its plan to establish a grid of trade and commerce routes across Manitoba.

The plan is to elevate the loading capacity of a series of roads – raising them to ‘RTAC’ standards — so each region is connected to a trade-route system. Roads that meet RTAC standards allow for traffic of vehicles of greater weight that are much less likely to be affected by seasonal thaw cycles.

“We assume the review is intended to realize through strategic trade (RTAC) transportation system investments, objectives which enhance the existing domestic, continental and global role already played by Manitoba as a transportation hub,” the MHCA’s May 20 letter to Schuler said.

“The investments should be accelerated for completion within the next five-year budget cycle. The world markets move and locate to jurisdictions that add value, speed, efficiency and connectivity. Markets cannot wait up to a decade to make investment decisions. They need to see commitment to a timely, outcomes-driven investment plan.”

The provincial government is asking Manitobans for feedback, through its EngageMb survey, on the proposed strategy, which lays out the roads identified in each region for upgrading. The intent is to enable economic activity by improving: transportation mobility and connectivity; safety and reliability; industry’s opportunity to expand, and; climate resiliency.

As a rule, MHCA does not give government advice on project selection, but rather seeks investment policies that focus on maintaining core infrastructure assets and promoting investment in transportation infrastructure projects that hold the strongest return to the GDP.

Its six principles for infrastructure investment are:

  • The program should be permanent no ad hoc
  • Its primary focus should be on highest trade ROI to GDP as a matter of first priority
  • Embrace innovation in every aspect including design, funding and delivery
  • Harness partnership with the private sector to deliver on anticipated outcomes
  • Dedicate revenue streams for transparent application to purpose
  • Ensure timely and periodic reviews to accommodate adjustment(s) for unanticipated emerging opportunities or circumstances