Last week, I posted about information I found in the environmental assessment for the proposed George Massey Tunnel replacement bridge. This information showed that traffic through the tunnel has been declining over the last decade, and that with the proposed toll for the new bridge, traffic volume across the new bridge will drop to levels not seen since the 1980s. This brings into question why the currently priced $3.5 billion dollar crossing is even needed.
While traffic levels will plummet at the George Massey Bridge, what I didn’t post about last week was the impact it will have on other crossings.
|Two-way Annual Average and Daily Traffic Volumes on river crossings impacted by the Massey Bridge Project. Select table to enlarge. Source: George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.|
Because a tolled George Massey Bridge will cause a massive drop in traffic, it will also result in a drop in traffic across other bridges along the Highway 99 corridor. The exception being the Alex Fraser Bridge which will have an additional 20,000 vehicle on it due to the George Massey Tunnel replacement bridge.
CTV found out about this information, and did a story on it which you can see by selecting the picture below.
It’s no surprise that traffic volume will increase across the Alex Fraser Bridge as tolling does eliminates many trips, but some trips will shift over. The same thing happened with the Port Mann Bridge with some people choosing to use the toll-free Pattullo Bridge.
There are two things that are true when it comes to highways in growing regions: you can’t build your way out of congestion, and road pricing/tolling reduces congestion. Instead of building a costly 10-lane mega-bridge, the province and region should agree on a short-term fare tolling policy, and long-term overall road pricing plan that would apply to all major congested corridors in the region.
Road pricing and tolling will reduce congestion, but only if applied equitably. The money recovered could be used to ensure that our current road network is in a state of good repair, to invest in much need transit service, and/or to lower the gas tax.