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MI commits to work toward 5-year highways capital program

Infrastructure investment is key to Manitoba’s recovery from the pandemic economic impact and Manitoba Infrastructure sees the heavy construction industry as key to creating jobs and building skills for Manitobans, the province says.

The letter from Manitoba Infrastructure follows a series of conversations and meetings with senior administration regarding the long-term needs and strategies for building and repairing highways, secondary roads, bridges, water and wastewater facilities and water-control structures.

“The (2021) budget committed Manitoba Infrastructure to a three-year horizon of a minimum of $500 million per year investment in capital infrastructure projects,” the letter says.

It also notes that the department and the industry must work together to deliver the increased program, “to ensure our success. These efforts include working towards a five-year public investment plan, training staff, and engaging with partners like the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association.”

MHCA President Chris Lorenc said he was happy with how receptive the department and political offices have been to the industry’s call for predictable, incremental increases to the highways capital program. Lorenc noted Manitoba has an estimated $9-billion infrastructure investment deficit for highways and bridges.

“There is no concern, from the industry side, about whether we have the capacity to deliver the $500-million program this or in coming years,” Lorenc said. “In addition, we share Manitoba Infrastructure’s concerns about getting construction started on the Lake Manitoba/Lake St. Martin channel outlets.

“We are ready and up to the task of ensuring the province is protected from extreme weather events and spring thaw flooding that can – and has – threatened our communities and residents.”

In the conversations and meetings, MHCA also pressed the province to work with the City of Winnipeg on harmonization of roadbuilding specifications, promoting the concept of a Western Canada Trade Gateways and Corridors Initiative and for a routine, annual review of the achievements and lessons from the highways capital program rollout.