Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New Brunswick winter maintenance gets extra $8.3M in transportation budget

Minister Roger Melanson announces $69.1M to help deal with harsher winters while tabling department estimates

CBC News Posted: Apr 29, 2015 12:27 PM AT Last Updated: Apr 29, 2015 1:27 PM AT
The Department and Transportation and Infrastructure is setting aside an additional $8.3 million for winter maintenance this year to help deal with the harsher winters New Brunswick has been experiencing.

Transportation Minister Roger Melanson made the announcement on Wednesday, while tabling the department's budget estimates.

The operational budget for 2015-16 totals $296.9 million — a $23.5 million increase over the last fiscal year, he said.

"We are providing more funding for highways and bridges as well as winter maintenance, and we are meeting our commitment to carry out brush-cutting to make our roads and highways safer," Melanson said in a statement.

The investments in infrastructure renewal will also help boost the economy and create jobs, he said.

About $69 million of the budget has been allocated for winter maintenance.

Some parts of New Brunswick broke normal winter snowfall totals this winter.

Saint John, for example, broke a 52-year-old record and declared a local state of emergency. More than 470 centimetres of snow fell in the city as of mid-March, up from 424 centimetres in 1962-63.

Grand Manan ferry fee increase

There is also a $75,000 increase in funding for the department's vehicle retrofit program, bringing it up to $275,000 "to better meet the needs of New Brunswickers living with disabilities," said Melanson.

He repeated a pledge to produce savings by eliminating free parking for elected officials and government employees working in urban centres, and announced the department will be charging more for the Grand Manan ferry service — the first increase in six years.

The fare for regular passengers will increase to $12 per person, up from $10.90. Fares for tractor-trailers, trucks and commercial vehicles will also "increase slightly." Grand Manan residents, however, will continue to pay half the fare, Melanson said.

The department's capital budget, announced in December, includes improvements to Route 11 and maintaining the province's existing highways and bridges by fully implementing asset management principles.

Funding for provincially designated highways in municipalities as well as the Vehicle Management Agency has also increased under the capital program.


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