Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Rant

Yesterday, I saw a picture of the new Port Mann Bridge (it’s been in all the papers) and it brought back memories of the 401 in Toronto. I was going to write a post about how the Port Mann Bridge/Highway 1 widening project will need to go for another Environmental Assessment Process which would mean that construction on Highway 1 will be going on right during the Olympic Games, but...

In the last 5 years the BC government and TransLink have spent $200 million on the seven-lane Pitt River Bridge, $800 million on the six-lane Golden Ears Bridge, $1 billion on the four-lane 40km South Fraser Perimeter Road Freeway, $96 million on the Highway 10 four-laning, $124 million on the Highway 15 four-laning, $65 million on Highway 91/91A interchange improvements, and now $3 billion on the Port Mann 10-lane bridge and widening of Highway 1 to about 8-10 lanes. All totaled that’s about $5.3billion dollars on roads. These roads are mostly going to impact the South Fraser Region.

Meanwhile on the Transit front, $2 billion has been spent on the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Canada line and the $1.4 billion might be spent on Evergreen line (if it ever gets funding.) All totaled that about $3.4 billion dollar on transit. These transit improvements are going to do very little for people in the South Fraser. What are we getting in the South Fraser? Bus Rapid Transit on Highway 1 which isn’t very good news. It could lock our region out of good rapid transit for a generation.

As an aside, this quote in the Vancouver Sun was a bit amusing:

TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said it was the first time in at least 20 years that buses will be back on the Port Mann Bridge. They haven't been used on the bridge because of congestion-caused delays.
Because a.) a queue-jumper lane could have been built like is done at the Massey Tunnel, and b.) buses were removed from the Port Mann because of the introduction of SkyTrain service. Anyways…

Whether you support or hate the Gateway Program, the BC government has been building roads like nobody's business (I think since the 1980’s, but I can’t remember as I was born in that decade). Though, for some reason, the bridges that are in the direst need of replacement (Fraser River Rail Bridge and Pattullo Bridge) aren’t being touch. Also, as the recent Pattullo Bridge closure pointed out, there is no alternative to the automobile for many people in the South Fraser. The governments need to step up in a big way if they want to get people out of their cars and keep our planet alive. A world class public transit system that would support Smart Growth planning (happening at the municipal level today) must be built because building roads (that don’t give equal access to all modes of transportation) will not get people out of their cars.

So, let gets build transit today. There has been much talk about building a balanced transportation system that leaves about $2 billion to spend on transit. Do I hear a light rail vehicle coming into Downtown Langley?

1 comment:

Corey said...

Not to mention how much has been spent on road maintenance, both at the provincial and municipal levels! I don't even want to know how unbalanced the equation is with all that maintenance spending factored in...

The Pattullo Bridge isn't being touched because it won't benefit any property developers - the land on both sides of the bridge is largely built out, and won't really raise property values out in certain areas of the valley like a new Port Mann would.

You forgot the spending on the Sea to Sky, and although this won't really impact the SoF region, its raison d'etre is the same: access to new developments on the outskirts of the city. The Port Mann will do this too... the Pattullo won't.

Hence, it's ignored, despite its function as a major regional transportation link, and the rail bridge's need for integration/expansion into the Pattullo structure.