Report: Canada needs to invest in road infrastructure (duh…)

Came across this from the New Geography RSS feed.  It’s a report commission by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy by Wendell Cox, an American conservative pundit on urban and transportation issues.  He takes Canada to task for not managing to build a modern highway system of inter-city freeways as most other wealthy countries have done.  He mentions the Calgary ring road, saying this is a step in the right direction, as motorists and truckers will no longer need to navigate several dozen traffic lights to drive through the city on the “national” highway, the TransCanada.

The numbers indicated to build something like an “interstate” system are eye popping but probably in the right ball park.  Alberta could certainly afford its share, and indeed, as it’s population approaches 4 million should have a plan to upgrade it’s major highways to freeway standards within 10 years.  That’ll take the construction of a lot of overpasses and interchanges but efficiency and safety make a strong case (indeed I wonder how prudent a 110 kmh limit is on roads with at grade crossings as is often the case here).  Bundling  together projects in large stretches of Hwys 1, 2, 3, 4 and 16 could provide cost saving through scale, and potential delivery through P3 models.

A 4 lane freeway from Calgary to Vancouver should also be a priority though will certainly require some federal support – one only has to drive through Switzerland (with all of 7 million people) to see what is possible to build in the way of building mountain autobahns. Road building doesn’t have much sex appeal these days but productivity and safety are as much issues as they ever were, and are good reasons for policy leaders in this country to take this report seriously.

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