Dennis Moore and his colleagues on the Southeast Transportation Planning Committee have had their hands full.
Most recently, they've been occupied with monitoring the provincial budget and what it has in store for the roads in our corner of the province, including over $900 million invested into the highways over the next year.
Moore noted that his equals to the north were quite happy to receive additional funding, areas that previously felt rather neglected. For his region, however, some of the major work on the slate includes passing lanes on Highways 6 and 39 between Regina and Estevan.
"I talked to the Minister (of Highways and infrastructure) at the meetings, and they're really excited to get going. We're going to get our passing lanes, I don't know how many they'll get done this year but they're guessing they'll get a good amount of them done. The question I had was, are we going to resurface the rest of 39? We've done some of it and it's made a real difference. There wasn't a real direct answer given but I settled on, if their passing lanes are going to be the issue this year then lets get on with it."
Some may question why the concept of twinning won't be applied to the stretch of road instead, however, it appears that that topic was mum.
"The word didn't even come up. At one point, we were just going to lay a little heavy on it that that's what we really wanted to do. But I think they've proved to us that the passing lanes have worked in other parts of the province, and we're not the only ones that are getting them."
"For the Estevan area, besides the passing lanes, we really want to get some upgrades on number 18 West. The STPC is working with the Southwest (Transportation) Planning Committee, working from both ends we hope that we can resolve some of the problems that have been going on there for a long time. It needs not only resurfacing, but there's areas that need to be rebuilt. That's the next issue, after we get the passing lanes in place," he added.
Another item high on the STPC priority list is establishing partnerships with RMs to rebuild, resurface and re-gravel some of the main highways that pass industrial sites in rural areas.
"We've got two RMs that are signed up and ready to go, and we probably have another 10 that are interested in the project. What brings the interest to the table is that some of the RMs only have the farms to back and support the highway structure. Other areas, you may have radium or potash, or oil, and the RMs are a little well in place to have this happen. In other words, they have some money to do it."
Moore stated that the term 'offloading' from the government onto the RMs can come up in some of these situations, however, they realize that there is only so much money to share, and so step up and contribute what they can.
"It's a good project, and I think as we complete the ones we have signed up, others will take a look at it and say, 'you know what, that's a good idea'. We have to save these roads, because if we don't, the ones that just need some attention will end up needing a rebuild. That's really expensive."
Overall, Moore said that he and his colleagues are satisfied with what came out of the budget. Although they didn't gain a lot of funding, they didn't see any loss either.
$51 million was designated in the budget for safety projects, including the passing lanes. $21 million was also put towards municipal transportation infrastructure, including $14 million for the Municipal Roads for the Economy Program (a program where the roads most vital to movement of goods are fixed first), and $700,000 for the Community Airports Partnership.