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Vancouver Sun - April 11 2005

Car pool, transit better than twinning Port Mann, group claims
 
Citizens Concerned with Highway Expansion worried increased traffic will negatively affect their neighbourhood
Krisendra Bisetty
Vancouver Sun

April 11, 2005

More than 60 per cent of motorists using the Port Mann bridge travel alone and steps should be taken to get them into public transit or car pools rather than twinning the bridge and widening the Trans-Canada Highway to ease congestion, says a group opposing the government's multi-million-dollar expansion plan.

The group says while the proposed expansion of the highway and bridge will alleviate congestion in the short term, the experience of other North American metropolitan areas is that congestion will be worse in the long term as more people take to the highways.

Members of the east-Vancouver-based group, called Citizens Concerned with Highway Expansion, are concerned that increased traffic will negatively affect their neighbourhood.

"This community should be vibrant, but when there's so many cars, the noise, the exhaust fumes and pollution, it makes it an unhealthy and unpleasant place to be," David Fields, a spokesman for the group, said in an interview Sunday.

"This is by no means a NIMBY [not in my back yard] issue but a regional issue. Other neighbourhoods stand to experience the same problem."

The provincial government is pushing ahead with the expansion despite lack of public consultation or presentation of its plan, said Fields, adding there's a dearth of information available on the merits of the expansion.

Which is why the group set out to find out just who the majority of road users are, using physical traffic counts on the Surrey side of the Port Mann bridge during peak weekday periods in March to gauge volume and usage.

On one such count on the morning of Wednesday, March 9, the group said it counted 935 vehicles heading west in a 15-minute period (3,740 per hour), of which an average of 64.7 per cent were single-occupancy vehicles and an average of 12 per cent were commercial vehicles.

On Wednesday, March 16, there were 4,880 eastbound vehicles in peak afternoon traffic, of which an average of 72.6 per cent were single occupancy vehicles.

On a Saturday, Feb. 26 count of westbound traffic, there were was an average of 28-per-cent single-occupancy vehicles.

Fields, who calls himself an "environmental campaigner" who is in-between jobs, admits the survey was a very basic one. But he says it still shows that if half these drivers can be taken out of their vehicles and put into public transit, it will ease traffic considerably.

"Right now there is no public buses that cross the Port Mann bridge," he said, adding that public transit to and from Vancouver and communities east of the bridge would help, as would car-pooling if there are incentives for commuting in groups.

"At the very heart of this is that the provincial government is not willing to consult with the community and has not even presented a plan for the highway expansion so we don't know what the province is thinking.

"There's no dialogue between the GVRD [Greater Vancouver Regional District] and the province. If there is, there will be an opportunity for us to look at alternatives," Fields said.

           
WESTCOAST NEWS
Car pool, transit better than twinning Port Mann, group claims
 
Apart from twinning the Port Mann bridge and adding two lanes to the Trans-Canada Highway from Langley to Vancouver, the government's so- called Gateway Program, aimed at expanding the capacity of goods-moving corridors, calls for a new perimeter road along the south bank of the Fraser River, from Port Kells in Surrey to Deltaport Way near Tsawwassen and a perimeter road along the north bank of the Fraser from Maple Ridge through Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and New Westminster, including a new Pitt River bridge.

Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon said in a February interview with The Vancouver Sun that the $3-billion road-and-bridge-building plan is going ahead "full speed" with a $291-million initial allocation announced in February's budget.
 
The Vancouver Sun 2005




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