Governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador to Invest More Than $1 Million in Intelligent Transportation Systems

OTTAWA – Natural Resources Minister R. John Efford, on behalf of Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre, along with Newfoundland and Labrador�s Transportation and Works Minister Tom Rideout, today announced the signing of a contribution agreement between the Government of Canada and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador for intelligent transportation systems in the province.

Intelligent transportation systems refer to a broad range of technologies designed to make transportation safer, more efficient, more reliable and more environmentally friendly.

Under the agreement, $1.1 million will be invested on a 50-50 cost-shared basis between federal and provincial levels of government for the acquisition and installation of up to 18 road weather information systems stations along the National Highway System in the province. The project work is expected to be completed by March 31, 2006.

“The agreement for the acquisition and installation of road weather information systems stations is a good example of cooperation between provincial and federal governments to enhance safety,” said Mr. Efford. “The application of these new technologies will help to make Canada�s road network safer, more integrated and more efficient during winter weather conditions.”

Road weather information systems are automated weather reporting stations with special sensors embedded in and below the road and on nearby towers. These systems collect detailed data on weather conditions at and near the road surface, which helps weather forecasters predict icing conditions and helps road crews make winter highway maintenance decisions, among other things. Cameras on selected stations will also provide visual data on highway conditions, which the public can access through the Internet. The national Road Weather Information Systems initiative is a joint federal-provincial-territorial program to provide Canadians with improved road weather information. Transport Canada and Environment Canada are the federal partners.

“The agreement for the acquisition and installation of road weather information systems stations is one of several that will establish a cross-Canada integrated network of information systems providing critical weather information for road maintenance crews,” said Mr. Lapierre. “These new technologies will increase economic productivity while enhancing road safety and travel efficiency.”

Transport Canada is concluding funding negotiations with the provinces and territories for the development of a cross-Canada road weather information systems network. The department will pay up to 50 per cent of eligible costs relating to the acquisition and installation of the system components, subject to the successful conclusion of contribution agreements with the provinces and territories. The provincial/territorial partners are expected to pay the balance and the ongoing operation and maintenance costs.

As a condition of funding, provinces and territories are also required to enter into a data-sharing agreement with Environment Canada.

“The road weather information system project is valued at $1.1 million and will be cost shared on a 50-50 basis by the federal and provincial levels of government,” said Mr. Rideout. “This system will enable the public to better plan trips and routes, resulting in reduced travel times and accident rates. Our government is committed to the people of our province and we are particularly committed to ensuring their everyday lives are healthy and safe.”

“Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service is directed toward one goal: to provide the best and most useful weather information possible to ensure the health, safety and security of Canadians,” said federal Environment Minister St�phane Dion. “This system will not only save lives but will also help reduce the usage of road salts, thereby protecting our environment.”

“I am extremely pleased that Road Weather Information Systems will be installed in our province, which will positively impact the environment through the more efficient use of salt on our roads,” said Mr. Tom Osborne, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Environment and Conservation. “Our province�s participation in this system demonstrates our commitment to addressing concerns around the environmental impacts of road salt. We are committed to protecting and enhancing our environment and support technologies that help us achieve our goals.”

Federal funding will be provided under the Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program, a $600-million program to improve highway infrastructure across Canada. Part of this funding � $100 million � is for initiatives that better integrate the country�s transportation system. One of these is the Intelligent Transportation Systems initiative, which includes applications such as advanced systems for traveller information, traffic management, public transport, commercial vehicle operations, emergency response management and vehicle safety.

Funding for this program is built into the existing financial framework.

Backgrounders with further information on road weather information systems and intelligent transportation systems are attached.