New Paving Initiatives OpEd

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first_imgSince coming to office, the government has taken action on building a safe and efficient highway system that keeps communities connected and supports local economies. We have delivered the two largest highway improvement budgets in the province’s history, helping to create good jobs and grow the economy. Over the last two years, more than $635 million has been invested in roads and bridges right across the province. We took another major step forward with the introduction of a Five Year Highway Improvement Plan, a new way of doing business, that supports improved planning for road builders and provides important information for communities. Developing a new asphalt plant and road resurfacing crews is another initiative that will help make sure we get as many kilometres as possible for the dollars taxpayers spend. We currently tender all repaving work, however in some areas, limited or no competitive bidding has led to higher prices. We have carefully analyzed the options and determined that doing some of this work in house will save money for taxpayers. For example, our analysis of tender prices shows that this lack of competition has resulted in asphalt prices between $9 and $24 per tonne higher than we are able to get in areas with competitive bidding. A limited number of bidders has also been an issue. Competitive bidding works best when there are multiple bids for each tender, ideally between six and eight. While there are 12 asphalt contractors who could bid on provincial paving tenders, in 2008 and 2009, 83 per cent of the tenders had three bids or less. In fact, in 2009 one company alone did 50 per cent of the province’s paving work. Compared with the prices we have received in the past, the savings from doing some work in house are estimated to be up to $2.5 million per year from the asphalt plant and $2.2 million from a chip seal crew. The majority of this kind of work would continue to be tendered. This is a model that is working well now. For example, by doing some centerline painting ourselves, we get prices that are 35 per cent to 45 per cent lower than other provinces get when they contract out all of their line painting. The significant investment required to build roads, along with the fiscal challenge we have inherited, means we must take advantage of all options to make the most of every dollar. In our Five Year Highway Improvement Plan we outlined improved approaches to maintaining our roads and bridges, including adopting a more balanced approach that uses a variety of improvement options, meaning we can improve more roads in more communities and pave smarter by preventing more costly problems before they happen. To see the Five Year Plan go to www.gov.ns.ca/tran . We will continue to do all we can to make sure we get the best deal possible for taxpayers. -30-last_img

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