The federal and Alberta governments are chipping in toward the $5.2 million cost of improving rural roads in Red Deer County.
As well, the county will receive an additional $2.5 million from a Canada-Alberta building fund for two major construction projects — wastewater storage and treatment upgrades for Benalto and Lousana.
County Mayor Earl Kinsella called the infrastructure grants great news for the citizens of Red Deer County — especially motorists.
The joint federal-provincial funding will help upgrade eight km of Cottonwood Road and three km of Range Road 270 with an asphalt overlay, as well as improve 20 km of gravel roads with a double seal coating to reduce dust and flying rocks.
“This will make a tremendous difference,” said Kinsella, who believes road complaints are “the No. 1 irritant” of county motorists. “Roads are a big deal in the county . . . this (funding) is very timely.”
The federal and Alberta governments will each invest up to $848,000 for the Cottonwood/Range Road 270 projects and up to $916,667 for the various gravel road projects.
Red Deer County will contribute the last third of the balance, towards overall project costs of $2.5 million and $2.7 million, respectively.
Kinsella said the maintenance projects, including those for Lousana and Benalto, are definitely needed.
While none of the targeted roads are in terrible shape, Kinsella believes the planned improvements will keep them from deteriorating.
The money will also accelerate the county’s 10-year road resurfacing program, allowing the municipality to finish several projects ahead of schedule.
And Kinsella believes the projects will also keep some contracted area businesses employing people through a rocky economy.
“Firms that had not had much work will now be working,” said the mayor, who hopes the projects will begin soon and be finished in the fall.
Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen believes this is the right time for government to get behind various infrastructure projects.
Not only do they create work, but labour and interest costs are now far below what they were when the economy was booming a few years ago. “We can get these projects done cost-effectively at this time,” he noted.
Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette believes the grant from the Alberta Stimulus Fund “is a huge support” in these tougher economic times. Better roads will also help improve transportation efficiency on the rural roads, benefitting public safety, he added.
The county road projects are among 156 across the province that are expected to break ground this month, thanks to a joint federal-provincial investment of more than $443 million, as well as municipal contributions.