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Twinning Port Mann won't solve congestion

By Leslie Dickson
News Contributor
Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows News
Feb 01 2006

• Trucks are slowed or stopped in traffic 75 per cent of the time at a cost of $500 million per year.
•Total economic cost of congestion is estimated at $1.5 billion per year.  Port Mann Bridge is now congested 13 hours a day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
GROWTH
• Expect 900,000 more people in Greater Vancouver over the next 25 years, boosting the population to 3 million and adding 25 to 40 per cent more vehicle traffic.
• Further port expansion is planned to tap growing trade with China.  The Port of Vancouver has seen 56 per cent trade growth with China alone in the past year and Asia now accounts for 35 per cent of total B.C. trade.
• Growth in workplaces outside the downtown core means suburb-to-suburb commuting has replaced the traditional suburb-to-downtown commuting pattern.
• The increase in Vancouver residents working in suburbs has been nine times higher than the growth in suburban workers who work in Vancouver.
• Over the past 10 years, just seven per cent of new office jobs have been based in regional town centres, while half of all those office jobs have gone into suburban business parks, mainly in Burnaby, New Westminster and Richmond. Most are poorly served by transit.
TOLLS
• $2.50 for private vehicles crossing the Port Mann each way.
• Commercial trucks could pay more, while motorcycles would pay less.  High Occupant Vehicles (HOVs) could pay less to encourage HOV use.
• Variable toll rates for peak and off-peak periods are eyed to promote travel in less busy periods. Overnight travel could be free. Base tolls would be in line with those planned for the Golden Ears Bridge.
SAVINGS
• Time savings of up to 30 per cent compared to 2003 levels.
Vancouver-Langley commute could save around $1 in operating cost savings and $5 in travel time savings in each direction. Multiply that by the hordes of commuters in the region and total travel time and operating cost savings are estimated at $8 billion.

Twinning the Port Mann Bridge is “short-sighted” and will do little to solve congestion problems, says Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean.

The provincial government announced its intention to increase the Port Mann Bridge to four lanes in each direction by 2013 yesterday, part of a $3-billion strategy to ease the flow of people and goods along major transportation corridors in Greater Vancouver.

“Six years from now, it will be just as full as it is now,” MacLean
said of future congestion on the twinned Port Mann Bridge. “They need to bite the bullet and build rapid transit. The people that can are ready to take transit.”

MacLean also accused the B.C. government of undermining TransLink’s efforts to get people in the GVRD out of their cars and on to transit.

“The provincial government has just stuck it to TransLink. I think
they’re going to have a hard time reaching the ridership they’re
anticipating,” MacLean added.

Charging tolls on the twinned Port Mann Bridge could also have another unintended consequence, as it could drive both residential and business development out of Surrey and into Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, suggested MacLean.

Maple Ridge Mayor Gord Robson also said he would also like to see “more transit and less roads,” but insisted twinning the Port Mann Bridge is necessary to address the region’s population growth and transportation concerns.

And while twinning the Port Mann Bridge could create business
opportunities in Maple Ridge, Robson said the district must first have land identified for commercial and industrial use.

However, B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon defended his
government’s decision, arguing twinning the Port Mann Bridge is just part of a multi-pronged strategy to address traffic volume, which also includes mass transit and access for cyclists.

“They’re all important pieces to the puzzle of congestion,” Falcon told the News yesterday.

Falcon also rejected MacLean’s claim that businesses would find tolls prohibitive to doing business south of the Fraser River, arguing the benefits of a twinned Port Mann Bridge would far outweigh the cost of tolls.




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©2005 Citizens Concerned with Highway Expansion