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Friday, February 08, 2008

The mandate of Highways and Infrastructure is to optimize transportation's contribution to the economic and social development of Saskatchewan by operating, preserving, and guiding the development of the provincial transportation system and enhancing provincial transportation system assets. The new transportation plan will allow the department to focus budget dollars to areas of optimum return for the Province while at the same time increasing funding to well-established preservation and operational practices.

Saskatchewan's road network consists of 26,072 km of highways, including: 9,249 km of asphalt concrete pavements, 4,929 km of granular pavements, 6,102 km of thin membrane surface (TMS) highways, 5,621 km of gravel highways, and 171 km of ice roads.

As of October 1, 2006, the Ministry had 1,476 employees stationed in 105 Saskatchewan communities. Ministry crews are responsible for most surface repair activities like crack filling, sealing, and patching. They provide snow and ice control, pavement marking, and gravel location services. Ministry crews also repair and replace signs, most small bridges and drainage structures, and operate the Saskatchewan River ferries, the Wollaston Lake barge, and the 18 northern airports.

Responsibilities for carrying out the Ministry's mandate are distributed among the Ministry's three divisions, plus Communications Branch.

Through its Operations Division, the Ministry is responsible for managing the province's 26,072 km of highways, 805 bridges, 453 large culverts, 12 ferries on the Saskatchewan River system, and 17 northern airports, which contributes to safety and efficiency of the transportation system. This includes developing preservation and operating programs for these assets. All design and construction activities for contracted preservation and capital projects, operational (snow and ice control, pavement marking, signing, ferries) and maintenance programs are also managed and delivered by Operations Division.

The expertise within this division is also used in developing and maintaining operating standards, policies and procedures, as well as provision of expert engineering, leadership, innovation, training, and services on all aspects of highway and bridge design, construction and operations.

In order to ensure that traffic can move as safely and seamlessly as possible between provincial and municipal road networks, the Ministry works with rural municipalities by providing technical advice and guidance on bridge and roadway design and construction and performing rural municipal bridge inspections. It also administers the Municipal Heavy Haul, Traffic Counting, and Bridge programs for the Ministry of Government Relations.

Policy and Programs Division works with other jurisdictions, First Nations, industry stakeholders, and shippers to ensure consistency between legislative and regulatory frameworks. This encourages efficiency and effectiveness throughout the system and among the transportation modes of road, rail, air, and marine. The Ministry also promotes efficiency and competition among transportation modes through its trucking programs, short line advisory services and a new Capital Assistance Program for municipal airports. Provincially operated northern airports play an important role in providing access to socioeconomic development opportunities for residents of the north.

Corporate Services Division provides planning, budgeting, performance management, financial, accounting, forecasting, and business systems support, including geographical information systems (GIS), to the Ministry. Communications Branch is responsible for strategic communications and education and awareness programs aimed at promoting safety.

The Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure (MHI) participates in transportation planning by working with stakeholders such as Area Transportation Planning Committees (ATPC) to define system needs and strategically invest transportation resources towards garnering greater economic and social returns to communities in the province. The Ministry administers the Area Transportation Planning (ATP) Support Program within its regional offices. The Program is intended to provide funding for transportation studies and programs and the development of strategic plans.

The Strategic Partnership Program (SPP) facilitates partnerships that support the strategic preservation and management of low traffic volume TMS highways through cost-effective, mutually beneficial agreements with municipalities and First Nations to provide acceptable levels of service for local residents.

The Ministry owns, operates, and maintains its own maintenance equipment fleet. Book value of the Ministry's machinery and equipment is about $55.5 million and the replacement cost is approximately $158.8 million.

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