Government of New Brunswick

Hon. Claude Williams
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
February 2014

Ministerial Statement

Mr. Chairman, as Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, I am pleased to deliver my department’s capital and ordinary estimates in the House today. These estimates reflect our government’s efforts to grow the economy and manage the province’s finances in a responsible manner. As a government, we are staying the course with our capital spending levels, investing in existing infrastructure, and continuing our disciplined approach in our ordinary budget.

The capital budget for my department in 2014-2015 makes strategic investments in buildings, equipment, bridges, highways and rural roads around New Brunswick. We continue to use our asset management system to inform our decision-making process.

I would like to mention the excellent work carried out by my department over the past year. For example, we celebrated the official opening of the Route 7 Welsford Bypass, the One Mile House Interchange and the completion of the Saint John Harbour Bridge rehabilitation. These major projects were carried out in partnership with the federal government.

As well, work is complete on the new Middle River Bridge in Bathurst and repairs are finished on the Maxwell Crossing Covered Bridge in St. Stephen.

New modular bridges have also been erected at Streets Brook on the West River Road near Grand Falls and at Sinnots Brook on Route 105 near Bear Island. Major rehabilitation work was also completed this past year on the Hugh John Flemming Bridge near Hartland.

In buildings, Chancery Place has become the new government headquarters for the province. New schools were completed in Moncton, Riverview and Tabusintac and new nursing homes opened in Stanley, Saint John and Tracadie-Sheila. We also marked the beginning of construction for a new breast health centre in Moncton, and a new addiction treatment centre in Edmundston. Work also continues on a new psychiatric hospital in Campbellton.

Going forward, improvements to Route 11 highway remain a priority of our government. It is currently the most important highway project in the province. Strategic upgrades to Route 11 will be completed over the next 10 years, that is our commitment and it is the fiscally responsible approach.

The capital budget for 2014-2015 will allocate $4.5 million for geotechnical and archeological investigation, survey, property acquisition, design work and clearing to begin construction from Shediac to Saint Gregoire, south of Bouctouche.

In addition, $1.4 million will be allocated this year for resurfacing a 3.5 kilometer section of the existing Route 11 in the Saint Gregoire area.

Further improvements to Route 11 also include $1.3 million for resurfacing 2.9 kilometers of highway between Dalhousie Junction and the Route 280 Interchange near Campbellton; and $650,000 for resurfacing 1.8 kilometers of Route 11 from the Grattan Road near Covedell to the Tabusintac River Bridge No. 1.

Our multi-year capital budget plan also earmarks further funding for this project over the next two fiscal years.

This funding will be $22 million in 2015-2016 for ongoing planning and design and to start roadway and structure construction in the Shediac area. An additional $26 million has been earmarked in 2016-2017 to continue construction. Federal funding support will be needed.

Our commitment to Route 11 includes fully twinning the most heavily travelled section from Shediac to Saint Gregoire as well as constructing a two-lane controlled access highway bypass between Miramichi and Glenwood. The work on Route 11 will also include rehabilitating the existing highway from Glenwood to Saint Gregoire.

Mr. Chairman, twinning the entire Route 11 highway was estimated to cost upwards of $1 billion. The approach we are taking will make the necessary upgrades at a cost of under $500 million, while addressing traffic flow, capacity constraints and providing a safer and more efficient highway for New Brunswickers. We are investing in infrastructure renewal and addressing concerns of industry in the province, while managing the province’s finances in a responsible manner.

This year’s capital budget for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure totals $233.2 million and includes:

  • $48.9 million for permanent bridges;
  • $85.6 million for permanent highways;
  • $47.5 million for rural roads;
  • $31.2 million for the National Highway Program;
  • $10 million for public works and infrastructure; and
  • $10 million for the Vehicle Management Agency.

Within this funding, several highway projects will be completed or undertaken including:

  • Route 8 Nashwaak/Marysville Bypass: $8.7 million.
  • Route 11 Caraquet bypass: $10.6 million.
  • Route 17 upgrading in the Black Brook Area in Victoria County, $2 million.
  • Route 2, Quebec Border to four-lane, final connections, $2.6 million.
  • Route 15 Harrisville Boulevard Interchange, $1 million.
  • $8.8 million for designated highways in municipalities around the province.

As well, we will be laying 501.4 kilometers of chip seal and 107 kilometers of asphalt during the coming construction season and these investments will be made by using the department’s asset management system.

Mr. Chairman, the Auditor General recently made recommendations regarding infrastructure investments in bridges around the province. We will be continuing several major bridge projects in the 2014 construction season, while other important bridge work will also take place including:

  • Rehabilitation of the Centennial Bridge at Miramichi, $7.2 million.
  • Upgrades to the Westmorland Street Bridge in Fredericton, $4.3 million.
  • Phase one rehabilitation of the Tobique River Bridge No. 1, $2.5 million.
  • Replacement of the Long Creek Bridge No. 2 near Sussex, $2.5 million.
  • Upgrades to the Nashwaak River Bridge No. 1, $2 million.
  • Upgrades to the Kennebecasis River Bridge No. 2 near Hampton, $1 million.
  • Completion of the new international bridge at Clair-Fort Kent, $430,000 and demolition of the old bridge, $3 million.
  • Replacement of the Presque Isle River Bridge No. 4 near Centreville, $1 million.
  • Kouchibouguasis River Bridge at St. Louis-de-Kent, $1 million.
  • Rehabilitation of the Southwest Miramichi Bridge No. 2 near Blackville, $450,000.

Mr. Chairman, I am also pleased to announce that, based on consultation and feedback from community stakeholders and industry, we will be replacing the John E. Rigby ferry with a new 24-car vessel for Deer Island. The new ferry will incorporate operational efficiencies to lower maintenance and fuel costs.

The goal will be to have the new ferry in service in the spring of 2015. Further details on this project will be announced in the near future. As well, construction will start on a replacement ferry for our aging river ferry fleet.

Our department is also responsible for public works and infrastructure. From within our capital budget, investments for this sector will include:

  • $4.6 million in capital improvements for various government buildings;
  • $2 million to continue with the Petitcodiac River restoration;

Mr. Chairman, these estimates provide a broad outline of our capital budget commitments for 2014-2015. Other departments will be presenting their individual capital projects as part of their own estimates.

I look forward to the coming year and the development of better roads and public infrastructure for the benefit, safety and well being of New Brunswickers.

Our ordinary budget includes the estimates for our day-to-day operations, including ferry services, summer and winter highway maintenance, bridge maintenance, building design and construction, facilities management, property management, corporate services, the Vehicle Management Agency, and grants in lieu of municipal property taxes.

The ordinary account for this fiscal year totals $273.4 million and includes the following:

  • $60.2 million for winter maintenance.
  • $53.3 million for summer highway, bridge and ferry maintenance.
  • $60.6 million for buildings and facilities management.
  • $59.8 million for grants in lieu of taxes.
  • $20.2 million for the New Brunswick Highway Corporation.
  • $17.8 million for corporate services, policy and strategic development, and district administration.
  • $1.5 million for planning, design and engineering services for bridge and highway construction and property management.

Mr. Chairman, this year’s operating budget reflects my department’s ongoing transformation to a performance-based organization. We remain committed to finding cost and efficiency improvements in the department, while maintaining quality service to our clients. We are putting our human and infrastructure resources to work to deliver quality services and invest in our roads, bridges and public buildings.

I am very proud of the work my staff has undertaken in performance excellence and continuous improvement. We have embraced the cultural change in the civil service and we are a leader within government in this regard. Our staff effort has resulted in numerous efficiencies across the department which assists government in reducing spending and putting our province back on the road to prosperity

Our government has a strong record of managing smarter and these estimates for DTI are evidence of the progress we are making to get our fiscal house in order.

I would now welcome questions on our capital and ordinary estimates.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.