"Well, I think it's a really exciting budget for the province, certainly with the strength of our growing economy, the investments that we're able to make into health and education and social services and, of course, highways," said Jeremy Cockrill, MLA for the Battlefords, Minister of Highways, and Minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, when asked about his thoughts on the provincial budget that was unveiled on Wednesday, March 22nd in the Legislature.
The 2023-2024 provincial budget invested $442.9 million into transportation capital, and includes a number of items for the Weyburn area, including beginning construction of twinning projects near Rowatt and Corinne on Highways six and 39, between Regina and Weyburn.
"We have really positive capital budget in the Ministry of Highways this year. We're going to continue achieving our growth plan goal of improving over 1000 kilometres of highways around the province each and every single year in this decade. We have some twinning on highway six, just south of the Regina bypass as you get into the city of Regina."
Minister Cockrill said that as you get closer to Weyburn and the Corinne corridor, at the junction of highway six and 39, there will be another seven kilometres of twinning there, that will improve both the safety and the flow of that junction.
"Again, both stretches of about seven kilometres of twinning, making that drive safer for people moving between Weyburn and Regina. We also have a fairly significant repaving project going on, on highway 33 between Fillmore and Stoughton, about 38 kilometres in total, improving a number of intersections in that stretch. Again, we know highway 33 is another busy highway in the southeast, so that's a significant project."
There will be some surface preservation happening on highway 39 northwest of Weyburn and Midale, he said, and again, "A number of other smaller improvement projects, like culverts going on near Carlyle, Radville and between Pangman and Milestone as well."
With this year's budget, more than $12 billion has been invested into transportation infrastructure since 2008.
"Our highways budget, it invests strategically in areas around the province that need investment, and that will help support our growing economy. Whether you're in the agriculture sector, forestry, or in the mining sector, I think what we've done in this highways budget is successfully target investment in those areas."
When you account for stimulus dollars dropping off, Minister Cockrill said that we have a higher budget than normal.
"I would say over the last number of years we've had higher budgets in highways, but that's because we had a stimulus program going on. So again, that's just our government investing more than normal into infrastructure and making sure that we're going to make those significant improvements to ensure road safety and efficiency in our highway network."
Minister Cockrill added that in the wake of the Humboldt bus crash a number of years ago, again a tragic situation in our province, "Our government made a five year $100 million commitment to improving road safety all across the province. What we've done in those years, is we've evaluated every single major highway intersection in this province. We've added turning lanes, acceleration lanes, illumination signage, and we've improved the line painting in those intersections around the province.
"When I'm out in communities around the province, those investments are making a difference and at the end of the day, that's what any budget is about, is making a difference in people's lives."