POLITICS

New Brunswick road builders say a bigger budget is needed in New Brunswick

01/09/2013 05:00 EST | Updated 03/11/2013 05:12 EDT
FREDERICTON - The president of the New Brunswick Road Builders Association says the $254 million being spent on provincial road infrastructure in 2013-2014 is a good start but more needs to be spent.

Peter Flower said his group wants to work with the province to get the level of road work up to where it needs to be on a consistent basis.

"The boom-and-bust cycle really hurts us," he said Wednesday.

"We train our staff, we gear up for the big budgets and then when they don't happen we lose our equipment, we lose our trained workers out west and it's hard to recover from that."

Flower said the three-year capital spending plan presented by the province does help, but he'd like to see a longer-term plan that provides more details.

"Our counterparts in Nova Scotia have a five-year rolling plan and their plan identifies projects whether they're grading, paving and structures in detail," he said. "We'd like to see that."

Flower said the budget for transportation infrastructure has been slipping over the last few years and could be doubled to get roads in New Brunswick in better condition.

But in a speech to the association's annual meeting Wednesday, Transportation Minister Claude Williams said there's only so much money available.

"We've got to live within our means and the investment we will be doing in terms of road construction and maintenance in the coming season is the fiscal reality we have got to live in," Williams said.

The province's Conservative government released the details of next year's road work last month when it presented its capital budget for 2013-2014.

It includes $100 million in new tenders.

Williams said the next major highway project in the province will be the twinning of Route 11 between Shediac and Miramichi.

"We have been in discussions with Ottawa on sharing the cost and we are optimistic an agreement can be reached," he said.

Williams said he hopes federal funding for Route 11 could come as early as 2014-2015.