Provincial road builders strive to hit passing lane.
Potholes and deteriorating de·te·ri·o·rate
v. de·te·ri·o·rat·ed, de·te·ri·o·rat·ing, de·te·ri·o·rates
To diminish or impair in quality, character, or value: roads, annoyances that have caught the attention of motorists for years, moved up the political agenda this year giving a longsuffering industry a blast of good news. Saskatchewan's road builders Noun 1. road builder - someone whose business is to build roads
constructor, builder - someone who contracts for and supervises construction (as of a building) are busy -- in fact, so are builders from Alberta and Manitoba -- as the drive to make our roadways more passable pass·a·ble
1. That can be passed, traversed, or crossed; navigable: a passable road.
2. Acceptable for general circulation: passable currency.
3. picks up speed.
Budgets for road building and repair were kicked up a notch this year but trying to determine just how much they've gone up is not so simple. The government has used phrases that talked of average annual expenditures of $250 million. This year, the budgetology spoke of $900 million over three years. This year's budget is $311 million, up $37 million from a year earlier.
Similarly, at the end of May, the federal, provincial and local governments announced "up to $220 million earmarked for Saskatchewan grain roads." That would be spent over five years with a federal contribution totaling $106.8 million over the period. This year's federal spending, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. industry sources, would reach $15 million.
Sorting out the rhetoric and terminology is as challenging as the work itself. The Prairie prairie
Level or rolling grassland, especially that found in central North America. Decreasing amounts of rainfall, from 40 in. (100 cm) at the forested eastern edge to less than 12 in. Grain Roads Program (PGRP (Peer Gatekeeper Routing Protocol) An H.323 IP telephony protocol that is used to exchange call routing information between gatekeepers. See H.323. ) is a joint venture of the three levels of government. Saskatchewan's share, for example, totals $30 million, which is part of its expanded budget. The PGRP is designed to upgrade rural roads and highways List of articles related to roads and highways around the world. International/World
1. The main impact or force, as of an attack.
2. The main burden: bore the brunt of the household chores. of a shift from rail to road movement of grain.
All told, 800 kilometres of TMS TMS Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (alternative medicine for depression)
TMS Test Match Special (sports - cricket)
TMS Texas Motor Speedway
TMS Transportation Management System
TMS Toyota Motor Sales -- Thin Membrane Surface -- roads have been earmarked for enhancement under this plan.
Budgetary expansion and a stronger emphasis on road work has left the road building industry with a smile on its face but it's not quite outright giggling, suggests Brent Warner, the president of the provincial road builders association.
"Most people (in the industry) are positive," Warner says of this year's construction season which began with an early spring that allowed work to start earlier than usual. "Most of the contractors are full steam ahead."
He also welcomed the multi-government announcement of the PGRP.
"That's great," he stated. "But it's only $15 million (from the federal government). The feds need to do more than $15 million. There's still no national highways program."
Calls for a national highways program have been frequent as provincial and local governments echo the concerns of motorists who complain about the condition of roads such as the Trans Canada Highway Trans Canada Highway can refer to:
Warner says the federal commitment to roads feeling the impact of added grain hauling is a welcome development "but $15 million is a drop in the bucket. I don't want to sound like we're crying but, in reality, it's not enough."
Sinclair Harrison, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, often abbreviated as SARM, is an independent association that is responsible for representing the governments of the many rural municipalities in Saskatchewan. It is an official Government of Saskatchewan sanctioned corporation. called the PGRP "a step in the right direction" but suggested the program should have been funded by the two senior levels of government. He forecasts rural municipalities A rural municipality, often abbreviated RM, is a form of municipality in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, perhaps best comparable to counties or townships in the western United States. will be contributing between $6 million and $7 million annually to cover their share of the package.
Seventy per cent of the PGRP funding will go towards upgrading TMS roads that were never designed to handle heavy truck traffic. The improvements will focus on secondary highways that comprise strategic grain movement corridors.
State of the Industry
While the industry welcomes the increased highways funding, it comes after a few lean years that have left their mark.
"Since the economy turned down in 1982, things in our industry never really got much better," says Jack Brodsky, whose family for the better part of 50 years operated Brodsky Construction, an earth-moving company specializing in road building. Brodsky concisely says this trend occurred "because a lot of the roads had already been built."
He notes that aside from a few re-surfacing and re-paving projects, there was far too little twinning, widening or other road building projects to keep companies like his busy. So the decision was made in 1996 to sell off the assets and cease operations.
"There was way more supply -- contractors and equipment -- than there was demand," Brodsky notes, adding that this trend is likely still applicable in spite of the province's intensified in·ten·si·fy
v. in·ten·si·fied, in·ten·si·fy·ing, in·ten·si·fies
1. To make intense or more intense: commitment to highway improvements.
Warner's take on the past 10 or 20 years is not much different but he sees a different issue on the horizon.
"The industry has suffered for several years," offers Warner. "People downsized their workforce and their equipment. That's a concern. There's a lot of grey hair (among industry employees). It takes a while to build a workforce."
He says it's difficult to attract young people to the business because "they don't want to run crawlers or loaders -- they want to run computers." Warner says the next challenge for the industry will be human resource development.
A bigger highways budget benefits the Saskatchewan industry but it also sparks interest from contractors in neighboring neigh·bor
1. One who lives near or next to another.
2. A person, place, or thing adjacent to or located near another.
3. A fellow human.
4. Used as a form of familiar address.
v. provinces too. Saskatchewan is party to an inter-provincial agreement on internal trade, the equivalent of a free trade deal, that clears the way for out-of-province companies to bid on Saskatchewan work.
In recent years strong spending on road and highway construction meant Alberta companies had built up capacity and they have come to Saskatchewan in hopes of putting that capacity to work. Alberta's highway budget this year is in the neighborhood of $2 billion. Two Alberta companies picked up major contracts for twinning the Trans-Canada Highway Trans-Canada Highway, c.4,800 mi (7,700 km) long, S Canada; dedicated 1962; completed 1970. The world's longest national highway, it traverses North America from St. John's, N.L., to Victoria, British Columbia. . Furthermore, high construction demand in Alberta has meant bids for bridge construction has come in higher than the government projected, reports the Department of Highways.
Similarly, Manitoba contractors have been shopping in Saskatchewan because road budgets in that province were reduced. One of the four major contracts on the twinning went to a Manitoba firm while the final one was secured by a Saskatchewan player.
Allan Widger, executive director of engineering services with Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation, says road builders from across the Prairies were active in this year's tender program but "percentage-wise, out-of-province contractors are not getting a bigger percentage of the work."
"After this year, we're going to try to get the balance back," offers Widger.
While Warner and the industry know that open borders bring more competition, it also gives Saskatchewan firms a chance to bid in other provinces. But he points to one other competitor that seems to be getting more and more work in Saskatchewan -- the highways department itself.
"We're concerned about department personnel. They've hired more people to do things we think should be done by the private sector," says Warner in pointing to things such as pavement marking, granular granular /gran·u·lar/ (gran´u-lar) made up of or marked by presence of granules or grains.
1. Composed or appearing to be composed of granules or grains.
2. overlay (1) A preprinted, precut form placed over a screen, key or tablet for identification purposes. See keyboard template.
(2) A program segment called into memory when required. and pot hole repair.
"There's an increase in the budget but it remains to be seen how much the industry will see."