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Cross-Cutting Issues Affecting TAC: Funding, asset management and climate change

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) councils, committees and task forces will meet at the upcoming spring technical meetings, April 19-25, to discuss committee-related issues and priorities, and advance their workplans.

These 800+ volunteers, representing more than 230 organizations, participate in some 50 different subject-matter and project committees. 

Some topics and issues are sufficiently complex and critical that they impact and influence the work of many groups. This article addresses a few of the issues raised by multiple committees last fall; they are expected to remain as major topics on meeting agendas again this spring. 

Infrastructure Funding and Investing in Assets  

The federal government has indicated a willingness to invest in infrastructure. In addition to traditional empirical data, many agencies strive to include social, environmental, vulnerability, and innovation considerations when making asset investment decisions. Ensuring fairness and transparency is important.

Last fall Chief Engineers’ Council member agencies discussed infrastructure funding, project eligibility criteria and allocation of federal funds. Members shared jurisdictional investment practices for construction and maintenance projects. Procurement practices and contract delivery systems, particularly alternative financing models and partners, encouragement for innovations in construction and demand for new technology were also discussed.              

With large transportation infrastructure transit projects underway throughout Canada, the Urban Transportation Council discussed financing options (tax increases, road tolls, etc.) for construction and ongoing maintenance cost for transit systems.  

As deteriorating transportation infrastructure and maintenance requirements continue to exceed available funding in most jurisdictions, choosing between potential projects becomes necessary but a challenging process. Following discussion in fall 2016, the Asset Management Task Force recommended a project to develop a synthesis of best practices for optimizing program decisions in relation to asset condition, performance goals, risk management and financial considerations within asset management systems.

Climate Change

The transportation sector contributes to and is highly affected by climate change. Federal, provincial, territorial and municipal levels agencies are advancing their work and continuing to engage in this important issue.

Members discussed several topics including frequency of extreme weather events on transportation infrastructure; climate change adaptation in geometric design; climate change risk resilience consideration in maintenance and construction projects; and climate change effect on pavement materials.

Initiated by the Environment Council, a project is in progress to develop a nationally applicable climate change risk assessment tool for transportation agencies.   

The new Integrated Committee on Climate Change met for the first time in Toronto at the fall 2016 meeting to discuss how to address issues related to transportation infrastructure and urban systems. The committee will identify and share information about climate change initiatives underway within TAC and other organizations, and develop tools to address climate change mitigation and adaptation in the transportation sector. Active participation by TAC councils on the committee will ensure collaboration on related initiatives to address common issues and subject-matter gaps.

Helpful Resources for TAC Members

TAC provides resources that help professionals working in roadway-related and urban transportation gain additional insight to these, and other, critical issues:

  • TAC Publications Catalogue and Bookstore – search and browse the catalogue for over 250 publications, best practices, technical guidelines, free titles, and more.
  • TAC Library online databases – recently-upgraded search capability and design interface help professionals access thousands of technical reports, articles, and resources from major Canadian and international transportation organizations.
  • TAC Research Bulletin – reports and articles relating to road transportation in Canada and addressing the industry’s current and emerging issues.