The Chamber has been advocating for continued asset management of local infrastructure while officials consider options for a second bridge in the region, and it was with that in mind that we hosted the Building Bridges for Success conference October 7, 2015.
This one-day conference brought together experts from around the province to give us insights into the number of vehicles using the bridge each day, various funding models and their legal requirements and advice from those who have worked with the P3 funding model. The P3 program, which brings together funding from municipal, provincial and federal sources, continues to be debated in Prince Albert.
VEMAX Management (now ATANA) and Dr. Gordon Sparks provided some insight into just how many people use our bridge. Between 22,000 and 24,000 vehicles pass over the bridge each day, he said. More than 75 per cent of those vehicles are just passing through Prince Albert, continuing on to destinations around the region or south of the city. More surprising is the economic cost of lane closure or a full closure of the bridge. The closure of one lane of the bridge costs approximately $100,000 per day, Sparks said, with a full closure estimated to cost $1.8 million each day.
Those numbers got a lot of attention from the crowd and helped reinforce the need to begin planning for a new crossing in this area while our current bridge is still intact. Planning for these types of major infrastructure projects takes time, regardless of the funding model, and should start now.
This conference will hopefully be the start of more discussions on this issue as we work together to plan for the transportation needs of this region. As those who spoke at the event noted, it will not only take money, but time and planning, planning and more planning.