by Martin Charlton Communications Martin Charlton Communications

If you’re a local road construction contractor, there’s plenty of good news headed your way.

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), thanks to substantial stimulus funding from both the federal and provincial governments, has more than 60 projects on the market and available to bidding contractors.

That total is expected to grow closer to 100 throughout the spring and summer.

“This is a total anomaly as far as the number of projects available,” said Terry Hoeving, SARM’s program manager, infrastructure.

Typically, SARM’s annual budget is $15 million for rural roads, bridges and culverts. She said a normal year would see between seven to 1o road projects. This year, there are 62 and counting.

“This is great news for our rural municipalities,” she said. “We haven’t had an influx in funding like this in several years. This is unprecedented. The funding was there not only to build up our infrastructure, but also to help get those residents to work and our contractors working.”

Hoeving expects a steady trickle of projects being made available to contractors between April and September.

Total funding for rural roads over the next three years is $44.7 million. The goal is to enhance 163,000 kilometres of roadways in close to 100 RMs. Hoeving believes this is the most extensive coverage of roads in the country.

SARM covers four categories of road infrastructure, including the base and sub-base. It no longer covers pavement. It will cover a clay cap, which is the most common among the RMs; it covers grading to improve the shoulders and the crown; it also covers a granular seal.

SARM initially announced 30 projects available for tenders in July 2020. An additional 30 projects hit the market in October. SARM currently is waiting for provincial approval to unveil a third round of projects.

“We’ll definitely have enough projects and work for a long time,” she said.

In addition to road work, Hoeving says approximately 1,400 municipal bridges across the province are in need of repair.

Total funding for bridge and culvert work is pegged at $31.5 million over the next four years.

The program that identifies rural road or bridge and culvert repair or building supports the economic development of the province. Funding for such projects is based on: Truck traffic; the length of detour if road is closed; various economic generators or industries that use the road in question.

Each RM qualifies for up to $500,000 in 50/50 cost-share grant funding per fiscal year.

Projects included this year are valued anywhere between $12 million and $200,000.

“Every project is important to each RM, whether it be the $12-million projects or the smaller ones. They all mean something different to each RM. They’re equally as important,” Hoeving said. “We hope that all RMs are applying to the program so that we can spread the funding across the province. We hope this creates jobs, boosts the economy and enhances people’s quality of life.”