In Ontario, there is currently a $34 billion-dollar municipal infrastructure deficit in the road, bridge, and culvert asset classes alone. With a lack of fiscal tools at the municipal level, governments of all levels must find creative ways to close this gap as the COVID-19 pandemic has put even more budget pressures on them. A bridge bundling pilot program for municipalities willing to collaborate should be encouraged and enabled by the province. Good Roads is asking that a P3 asset bundling pilot program for municipal bridges and culverts be launched by Spring 2023.
In 2013, Good Roads and like-minded organizations produced a report which looked at the feasibility of applying a P3 model to smaller projects by bundling them to enhance investment and maintenance of municipal bridge and culvert structures. The study conservatively estimated that this P3 model could achieve 13% to 20% in savings, in addition to the benefits of accelerated construction.
The biggest hurdle to implementing a program of this sort was the lack of data at the municipal level. As municipal asset management plans have now been mandated in Ontario, this data gap has been eliminated.
It is time that the province and municipalities worked together on creating a bridge bundling pilot program. Such a program would need to be “opt-in” for municipalities to preserve the right of local councils to do what is best for their communities. However, with the potential to both save on costs and expedite construction, many will no doubt be interested.
If your community is interested in participating in such a program, please contact Thomas Barakat, Good Roads’ Manager of Public Policy and Government Relations at email@example.com.