Quebec, Quebec – In the second of a series of three questions sent by CAA-Quebec to the province’s main political parties during the current election campaign, the association has asked them to clarify their intentions regarding long-term financing of the province’s road infrastructures.
CAA-Quebec said that one of the main reasons why the province’s road infrastructures are “in such a sorry state” is ongoing negligence of their maintenance over the years. Major investments have been made since 2007, but the association said that infrastructures must be permanently protected from the vagaries of changing political administrations by guaranteeing stable, long-term funding. “This objective could be achieved with the creation of a fund dedicated exclusively to preserving and maintaining the road network, and managed by an agency independent of the government,” said Sophie Gagnon, CAA-Quebec Senior Director of Public and Government Relations. “In a March 2007 survey of CAA-Quebec members, 83 per cent of respondents agreed that such a fund should be created. Clearly, past negligence and the sad events of September 2006 had left their marks in the minds of motorists.”
CAA-Quebec said that a user-pay principle has existed for years, given that automobile owners pay registration and license fees, as well as taxes on fuel, but often more than 50 per cent of that money has been invested by successive governments in projects that have nothing to do with road or bridge work. The association is a member of the Coalition pour l’entretien et la réfection du réseau routier du Québec (Coalition for the maintenance and rehabilitation of Quebec’s road network), which in 2005 estimated that $2 billion per year should be required over the next ten years to achieve an acceptable threshold of less than 20 per cent obsolescence. There were more than 1,800 roadwork projects in Quebec in 2008, with nearly $3.3 billion invested until the end of fiscal year 2008-2009, but CAA-Quebec said that this era of major projects must continue to restore health to the road network.