At long last, details of a plan for twinning the congested Port Mann Bridge and widening of the Trans-Canada Highway will be announced this morning by Premier Gordon Campbell.
The new bridge and highway widening are part of the controversial $3-billion Gateway Project, which includes improving goods- and-services movement in the Fraser Valley with North and South Fraser Perimeter highways.
While Gateway had been a long-term project of the Transportation Ministry, it jumped up the priority list when Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon began promoting it in 1994. He had promised to release the Gateway Project description report this week and was scheduled to speak about it at the B.C. Chamber of Commerce's transportation summit.
But Falcon has been bumped this morning by his boss.
The Gateway Project is opposed by municipal politicians in Vancouver and Burnaby, who fear excess traffic in their domains, and by environmental groups.
"What we're getting is a Frankenstein monster of a bad plan here," said David Fields of the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation. "As we've seen all over North America, when you extend roads you're just going to increase congestion.
"With it you're going to increase local air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions."
But for B.C. Chamber of Commerce president John Winter, "the status quo is not an option as far as the Trans-Canada is concerned, as far as the Lower Mainland is concerned."
Winter said he hadn't seen the plan, but is buoyed by the knowledge of how much work has gone into Gateway.
"I think the opposition that is apparent out there will be placated with the plan when they see it," he said.