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Province putting $589 M into roads, highways, bridges

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The Manitoba government says it will spend $589 million this year to fix the province’s roads and highways.

Premier Greg Selinger and Infrastructure and Transportation Minister outlined the province’s 2012 infrastructure plan this morning, a plan which also includes fixing 80 bridges and 200 roads damaged in last year’s flooding.

Selinger and Ashton said they released details about their road, bridge and highway infrastructure plan to clear up any confusion from Tuesday’s budget.

Critics say the province is spending less on infrastructure than in the past despite collecting $47 million more in new revenue through a 2.5-cent increase in the gas tax.

Ashton and Selinger say the amount they’re spending this year is higher than last year.

Selinger said Manitoba will see about $50 million less in federal infrastructure and economic stimulus money than it has since 2009 which partly accounts for the difference. What’s also not reflected in this year’s budget is the cost of building the new women’s jail in Headingley, buying new water bombers and the expansion of the Red River Floodway.

"The $589 million is the real cost — it doesn’t include anything on municipalities — that’s what is spent on roads and bridges," Ashton said. "Most Manitobans are asking, ‘What am I paying in gas taxes? What am I getting back?’ As the premier says, for every dollar people are paying in gas tax, including after the increase, it’ll a two-dollar expenditure back in our highways."

"It’s a twofer," Selinger added.

The premier also said $50 million will go towards repairing flood-damaged roads and bridges. Other projects include renewing or building more than 2,400 kilometres of roads and constructing the first phase of the east side road network, a permanent road system in Manitoba’s north.

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