Saskatchewan announces $15.3 million for road improvements

The province has announced an additional $15.3 million to continue investing in road improvements through the Integrated Rural Roads for Growth (RIRG) program.

More than 41 municipalities and communities will receive funds to maintain their roads under the fourth phase of the program.

RIRG is intended to provide financial support to rural municipalities to cover the costs of building and upgrading rural infrastructure. It also helps local industries, including agriculture, energy and forestry.

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Ray Orb, president of the Association of Rural Municipalities of Saskatchewan (SARM), said they will use the infrastructure dollars to upgrade rural roads that are heavily trafficked and carry grain.

He added that farmers will benefit the most, but some changes will also affect the forestry industry in the northern part of the province.

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The agricultural community will be able to get their produce to market faster, making it easier to move grain from farm to rural terminals. Road conditions will be better, more traffic will be allowed and less damage to vehicles as safety issues are resolved.

“Improving roads is important, but if you don’t have a good bridge, then there is no point in upgrading roads, it needs to be done together,” Orb said.

He added that there are more than 1,400 rural bridges in Saskatchewan, many of which are nearing the end of their service life and will require much more money to restore.

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Highway Minister Fred Bradshaw said the RIRG program has been well received over the past few years and the government is investing in infrastructure that can support the rural economy.

“This successful program, in partnership with SARM, has improved the safety and quality of our bridges and highways in dozens of rural areas,” he said.

The province has said that this year’s budget will cover 1,100 kilometers of highways, and since 2008 about $11.5 billion has been invested in highway infrastructure.

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