By DAVE BRUHA, Publisher and Editor
While a glance out the window confirms that construction season for Alberta's roadways is still quite a ways off, recent budget details from the federal and provincial governments promise some good news for this part of the province.
"The reality about transportation is that it's
If we're planning for what we have,
we're behind the curve."
- Anthony Foxx
Local highways have long been neglected by several rotations of governments. The $11 billion targeted for highway and water management infrastructure will go a long way in addressing this shortfall.
Road repair has never been an attention grabber for governments like opening a school or announcing a new hospital. Nonetheless, these projects are vital to keep the economy and ruralcommunities alive and thriving. Decent roads are like having good physical health - when all is well and in working order we don't think twice about it. But when things break down, all aspects of life become more difficult and strained.
As we have seen over recent years, the breakdown and decay of certain roads leads to drivers choosing alternative routes to find roads that will handle industry traffic or to avoid poorly maintained roads. Down our way, road conditions between rural Alberta and Saskatchewan are important. Since Sk. Hwy. 51 from Compeer to Kerrobert was allowed to deteriorate into a potholed goat trail, the entire region has suffered as traffic, business opportunity and dollars have bypassed the prairie town.
Highways form the backbone of our provincial transportationnetwork and support provincial, regional and national economic activity. When the roads and bridges that make up this network are properly maintained everyone benefits ─especially the people who need to get from area to area for services. Agriculture, manufacturing, resource industries and tourism depend entirely on access. The most beautiful scenery in the world will get little notice if people don't have access to it. Resource development can't and doesn't happen if there are not proper transportation routes, and business doesn't invest in a town isolated from the world through a lack of maintained roadways.
On the radar for repaving is: Hwy. 12, Veteran to Coronation; Hwy. 9 from Oyen to Yougstown; most of Hwy. 41 from Czar to Wainwright; 30 kms of Hwy 14 between Fabyan and Kinsella and some smaller projects around the district. These projects will not see construction this summer: they are in the planning phase which, nevertheless, is several rungs up the ladder from the previous phase of 'where the hell is Hwy 12 phase?'
Getting on the docket is the first step. It is one thing to announce projects and promise money, and quite another to get the work done. Local councils need to keep the minister's feet to the fire and make sure the promises turn into asphalt and rural transportation services.
Although seeing our local roads getting attention is
welcome news, you can't haul grain, move an oil rig,
or drive to the hospital on a promise.
The Consort Enterprise, established in 1912, is a weekly publication primarily serving the communities of Consort, Veteran, Monitor, Kirriemuir, Altario and Compeer. As the west opened up following the turn of the 20th century, the emergent villages usually had a hotel, cafe, livery barn, blacksmith, general store, hardware, bank, pool room, barber and a weekly newspaper. The first copy of The Consort Enterprise (a single news sheet) was printed on equipment that still exists in the local museum. With computers now fully entrenched in the Enterprise office, a museum was built in Consort to preserve the history and tools of the newspaper pioneers on the Alberta prairies.
Stay posted for Issue, No. 9, when
Molly Douglass, Reeve, County of Newell,
explores issues around municipal engagement and funding.
Rural Transportation News. Alberta 2018 is produced by ALL of Alberta (Association for Life-wide Living of Alberta). Contributors and people in RuralTransportation Team Alberta are committed to changes that contribute to the quality of life for everyone in rural Alberta. We value your feedback and ideas.
or by calling 780/672-9315.
Appreciation is extended to contributors, organizations and other stakeholders for their help in moving the Alberta Rural Transportation efforts along, and to the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association for helping to circulate this column.
Cathie Bartlett is Editor for Rural Transporation News. Alberta 2018. She is a former journalist, and now an active member of the
Battle River Writing Centre.