By Shantel Lipp
A national highway network, along with public policy commitment to designate funds to road
By Shantel Lipp
It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Nowhere has this been more prevalent than in the way governments at all levels continue to plan and fund their infrastructure development.
|Decades of reduced investment in the highway and transportation system have created a backlog of maintenance and repair work. (Photo courtesy of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association)|
January 1958 at the Canadian Good Roads Association Annual Conference then Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas was quoted to say, “In the last 25 years we have gone through a transportational revolution. The internal combustion engine and the inflated tire have changed the whole economy, not only of the North American continent, but of the western world. Roads…have become as essential a part of our economy as railroads were 75 years ago. And I think that we completely underestimate what the demands of motor-vehicle traffic are going to be in the next quarter of a century. I think that if we could look into the future tonight we would realize that we are under planning highway construction all over Canada.”
The province of Saskatchewan is located at the centre of North America and while at one time it was thought that we were too far from distant markets, it is now being realized that we are in fact a direct link to crucial export markets and a dynamic economy.
Trade and transport is the heart of the Saskatchewan economy. More goods are shipped over roads in containers than through any other means of transport. The oil and gas industry needs a solid transportation system for both their exploration and production, and let’s not forget about our province’s ever-growing agricultural sector. This type of progress means there is an increasing demand for more primary weight roads to ensure we move product and remain competitive and it also means greater safety for the traveling public.
There aren’t many people that give a lot of thought to how they get to their end destination on a daily basis. However, restrict their ability to travel freely and it’s a different story. Today travel and transportation is basic to education, health care and social interaction and is a normal part of our everyday lives.
|Shantel Lipp, president of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association. (Photo courtesy of Look Matters)|
A strong transportation system fuels a strong economy, which is why the federal government chose to invest in infrastructure as a means to revitalize the nation during the global financial crisis. Investing in infrastructure and transportation is a reinvestment into the economy through capital equipment and vehicle purchases and increased employment numbers.
Saskatchewan’s economy is thriving due in part to the province’s recognition of the need for continued investment into our highways. The provincial government has made substantial record level investments into the provincial highways system but it’s still only scratching the surface of what needs to be done if we plan on continuing in a forward direction.
Provincially, as well as nationally, decades of reduced investment in the highway and transportation system has created a backlog of maintenance and repair work required to get our roads back to their intended design life. A national highway network along with public policy commitment to designate funds to road investment is needed now more than ever.
We can’t keep funding our infrastructure through traditional means; it’s time government did things differently. It’s time to stop the insanity.
Shantel Lipp is the president of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association.