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February 13, 2006

Roadbuilding

Ontario opens its cheque book

Record $1.3 billion in paving contracts

Ontario’s highway builders should see a $6.9 billion boost from the provincial government over the next five years as part of the Ministry of Transportation’s Capital Works program.

It is the second consecutive year that MTO will release a record number of bucks for highway construction.

“We’re very pleased with the commitment the government has made and particularly the long-term planning aspect. It gives us some tools to properly plan for the future. We’ve been after that for 10 years,” explained Rob Bradford, executive director of the Ontario Road Builders’ Association.

If the Liberal government stays in power for the next five years road builders should be assured that the money will keep coming, he said in an interview at the ORBA convention.

Noris Bot, acting director of policy and planning at MTO, told delegates at a seminar on the ministry’s planned capital expenditures, that 2005/06 represents an “all-time high” of about $1.3 billion.

Of that total, $582 million is geared for southern Ontario, and $297 for northern Ontario. “It represents a 14 per cent increase in our construction budget over 2004/05,” he said.

Twenty-two expansion projects are earmarked for southern Ontario, with a sizable number of contracts expected to be tendered from those packages, said Bot.

Over the next three months, 25 new contracts totaling $460 million are expected to be advertised. For the same period last year, 17 contracts were advertised for $200 million.

Among the major projects in the north is the double-laning of Hwy. 11 over seven years and 12 years worth of work for the widening of Hwy. 69. Both highways flow into Sudbury.

Project approval may be subject to environmental approvals and property clearances.

While other projects throughout the province will keep road builders on their toes, for the most part the work will be rehabilitation-related.

“We are not seeing any capacity increase in the central region or the GTA,” said Bradford, adding that widening of the Hwy 401 near Chatham represents a major boon to road builders in the southwest region.

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