Monday, July 24, 2017

Delta Mayor pitches light rail to justify Massey Bridge

Up until a few months ago, it seemed that a 10-lane Massey Tunnel replacement bridge was going to be built. The Massey Bridge is a bad idea. It was a bad idea in 1955 when a bridge was first considered, and is still a bad idea today.

The bridge would have a negative impact on farmland, shift congestion to other crossings, and because of the soil conditions in the area, be cost prohibitive to build.

The current provincial government does not appear to be interested in moving forward with the bridge as it is currently being proposed. Because of this, Delta has been lobbying hard to get a Massey replacement bridge back on the table.

The TransLink Mayors’ Council is meeting this week, and Delta’s Mayor Jackson has the following motion that she will be putting forward:

“That in year five of the TransLink Mayors Council’s 10 year plan, a preliminary study be undertaken formulating a comprehensive plan which would see the construction of a light rapid transit rail line from Brickhouse Station, in Richmond, and subsequently run southward over the new bridge, crossing the Fraser River. This new transit line would then travel through Delta, South Surrey/White Rock, and on through Langley township, culminating in Chilliwack.”

Back in the 1980s when SkyTrain was first built, there were plans to extend the system to South Delta. The idea of building rapid transit to the area isn’t without merit. However, our region is more polycentric today than it was back then.

South Surrey and White Rock warrant rapid transit due to their population and status as a regional centre. The current plan to serve this area is to extend light rail along King George Boulevard. This would give people an alternative to driving for most trips in that sub-region.

Map and table of South of Fraser travel patterns. Source: 2011 Metro Vancouver Regional Trip Diary Survey.

Building light rail from Richmond to Chilliwack via Delta and Langley would cause extreme pressure to develop the Agricultural Land Reserve.

This pitch for light rail appears to be a hail Mary attempt to justify building a Massey Tunnel replacement bridge which is no longer a priority for the provincial government, and has never been a priority for the region. It will be interesting to see if the Mayors’ Council passes her motion on Thursday.

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