This announcement came out in The Sun on election day, November 15:

Representatives from all three governments met in a North Vancouver traffic loop this week to unveil plans for a new interchange on Highway 1 at Mountain Highway.

Interchange 1


… a $ 50- million project aimed at undoing the traffic quagmire

In the big scheme of things, this is just one intersection in the freeway network within Metro Vancouver – $50 million for one part of a $140 million project.

The province will put up $23.5 million, with $12.5 million coming from the federal government and $14 million from the district, including $5 million spent buying the shuttered Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary from the North Vancouver school board. The school site sits where the new overpass will go.

The purpose?  Congestion relief.

“We think it will be significant,” Joyce said. “It’s not going to solve all of the problems, but we believe 30 per cent of the traffic that is coming down the Cut is actually local traffic and it’s trying to get through. If we can get it off ( the highway sooner), it’s going to make a great deal of impact.”

The talking point for the local MLA is indicative of the thinking:

“When we think about all the things that are important to us, time is probably one of the most important things. This will save people time,” North Vancouver MLA Naomi Yamamoto said.

There’s more to come:

Redoing the Mountain Highway interchange is the first step in a three- part project that will see the Mount Seymour Parkway and Main Street- Dollarton interchanges redesigned. The total cost is estimated at $ 140 million.


Three points:
(1) The Big Assumption:  Any new road improvement will benefit the existing traffic – so long as there is no significant increase in new traffic.
(2) The Logical Outcome: In a growing region, there will be new traffic.  Attracted by ‘congestion relief,’ it will fill up the expanded capacity and create the next point of congestion. Which will lead to the demand for more road infrastructure.  Which, in the end, is the point: Motordom Must be Fed.
(3) The Unnoticed Reality: You will not vote on this.  Citizens on the North Shore did not vote on this.  Road and bridge infrastructure is not the kind of thing put up for a public vote; it is announced – just like the Massey Crossing.

This is another example of Default Motordom: No matter what happens to the transit referendum, big road projects will get negotiated, funded and announced.
Prediction: Even if the referendum fails, the Pattullo Bridge (a part of the mayors’ package) will still go ahead.  It will be negotiated as a side deal, funded by the Province – and one day, just announced.


  1. The double standards here kill me. All reports I’ve seen to date about this interchange have been 100% boosterism; not a lick of self-consciousness or doubt about the wondrous benefit of the dollars spent to make the morning drive over this bridge just a teeeeensy (pinching thumb and forefinger together) bit less inconvenient for not all that many people (60,000 trips/day).
    Yet front page news today is ablast over the outrageous (OUTRAGEOUS!) $71m needed to bring the entire Skytrain system into good working order by modern standards. Moral outrage and soul-searching – even from self-identifying transit proponents.
    Does anyone question the large sums pissed away for the sake of a few seconds’ driving convenience for 60,000 motorists/day? No. Does MoTI plead poverty and tell City/District of North Van to come up with the money themselves? No. Bottomless funding for roads from the province and everyone seems to think this is normal and not worth questioning. But for transit and the many hundreds of thousands of people each day it serves – this great and endless burden of having to justify itself.

    1. I’m pretty sure a referendum for this on the North Shore would be a waste of money. This is a case of a political no-brainer. There are no ways across the highway from one side of North Vancouver to the other which aren’t jammed with bridge traffic on a nightly basis, even in the counterflow direction.
      Since buses are the only form of transit on the North Shore, that means that both transit, trucks and personal vehicles all get stuck. Due to the length of the backlog bus lanes also would likely have to be hilariously long. Getting from Lonsdale to Seymour Parkway can take 10 minutes on a good day, or 45-1hr on a bad day and there are no alternate routes that aren’t affected by the current bottlenecks.
      Why are the bottlenecks such a pain? Because there’s only 2 roads which cross the highway to the East and they’re both right at the bridge head.
      The bridge, ironically isn’t the problem. It’s the merges on the North end of the bridge and the surges in traffic volume that correspond to ferries arriving in Horseshoe Bay. There’s several exits in this area that date back to the 60s. Needless to say they suck, cause lots of accidents, and shockwaves to travel through traffic flows as motorists panic. Worse yet, there’s no shoulders so any accidents can’t be moved aside. Brilliant!
      So you end of with a great bridge (which the 2nd narrows is) with excess capacity, and a bunch of 1960s era garbage leading up to it.
      I’m not saying this is a panacea, but it’s cheap medicine. A few seconds might not be worth it, but this will likely save several thousand people a few minutes a day for years to come. Even at $141M, over the life of the infrastructure it will be pennies per day.

      1. You’re not incorrect about the technical merits of the interchange. It will likely save several tens of thousands of people a day a few minutes – and is therefore a ‘no brainer’.
        My point is that the same ballpark figure for transit, which will save time for hundreds of thousands of people a day in terms of reduced operational delays, is by contrast portrayed as a boondoggle.
        This is just the world we live in. Not surprising, but sometimes disheartening.

  2. No discussion/question about this on its impact on property taxes – I thought people couldn’t take any more? That’s the line when it comes to transit.

  3. It is important that we remember the impacts of induced travel when we evaluate transportation decisions….and I hate the hipocracy that states we need a referendum for transit dollars but not something like this interchange….That said this is not necessarily a bad project. It is on the Freeway, we are not talking about a significant loss of neighborhood connectivity by building this. While we don’t want commuters to change their travel habits to take advantage of the theoretical time savings we do want freight to flow AROUND Vancouver as smoothly as possible. If it is true that this bottle neck is caused in large part by local traffic not going onto the bridge and that local traffic can be made more efficient with this interchange it MAY be a worthwhile investment. I would still like to see the cost/benefit and compare it with transit projects we are having trouble finding money for.

  4. Biking from east of Hwy 1 in N-Van to Lonsdale, downtown, or Burnaby is an option for the hardiest of folks only.
    Should we build a subway instead ? Perhaps. But Vancouver outside of downtown or away from SkyTrain is just not practical without a car, especially east of Hwy 1 in N-Van.
    Until faster, rail based options exist car is king. Buses are not the answer, nor are bikes for most folks.

    1. Hi Thomas, that line of reasoning is circular. It says that since the car is the most convenient option today, we should just keep building car based infrastructure and making car based land use decisions. Both those will then guarantee that the car will remain the most convenient option by making walking dangerous and inconvenient and making transit ridiculously expensive. If we are going to move forward, we have to take a baby step. Somewhere, someone has to have the guts to say, “this $50 million would be better spent elsewhere”
      Additionally, as Gordon points out, building more roads induces more travel, which ultimately creates the congestion the road is supposed to solve. If we aren’t going to charge for road usage, congestion and gas prices seem to be the only things that influence people’s consumption of road surface.

  5. Welp. If you ask me, until those drivers stop going through red lights and jumping on onto sidewalks, they don’t deserve any more of my tax money.

  6. North Vancouver can’t build density (especially in the District) until this bottleneck is addressed. As someone all for density, we must also accept that roads and highways are still critical infrastructure that undergird the moving of people in any environment (especially people-dense ones)!

  7. Has anyone noticed they are going to build this massive $50 million interchange and have it controlled by a traffic light?

  8. Well, that movement is currently a stop sign, so I’m not sure what you’re hoping for. Most highway traffic heads North, not South from that light so it’s not going to be much of a problem. The Mountain Highway to Westbound Hwy 1 is also a new movement, which probably won’t be all that busy. The light will probably prioritize N-S movement much more than E-W movement.
    The entire reason for this part of the interchange is to start spacing out the interchanges to minimize interference between the interchanges and actually allow merging to happen at a safe rate.
    As is, buses have to merge right in to freeway traffic right at the bridgehead with no acceleration lane. Things like this are traffic engineers nightmare and need to be fixed.

  9. A new interchange like this one is a great opportunity to integrate active transportation into the design. There should be walking and cycling paths separate from motor vehicle traffic but this does not appear in the current design.

    1. I agree. They could easily make the approach ramps higher and put in generous underpasses for cycling and walking through. The Netherlands has that kind of thing all over. They could just steal the design from them.
      The addition of wider cycle paths on the 2nd Narrows Bridge that were tacked onto the suicide prevention barriers project, there will be more people cycling to and from that bridge. They can’t just be thrown into motor traffic.

        1. that would be awesome, and I think it’s a realistic suggestion. If you live in the area, could you organize some support for this? Maybe write the local North Shore papers and the Vancouver Sun? Something like this could really be added to the design, even if building the thing in the first place is a done decision with no oversight.

  10. Urbinflux – thanks for providing accurate information about existing conditions in this incredibly ill-designed part of the regional transportation network.
    As well, the District of North Vancouver’s brand new Lower Lynn Town Centre and Lynn Value Town Centre are located in the immediate area, and are both intended to provide more housing choices in walkable communities, reliant in part on more frequent transit service. The North Shore’s largest transit hub – Phibbs Exchange – is located right at the highway/Main Street off-ramp. Hence buses will be able to move more dependently with these improvements as well.
    So, this is not motordom alone at work. It is helping to solve long- standing mobility issues in combination with building significant nodes of development needing improved transit service.

    1. Frank – given that this is an efficiency improvement to an existing piece of road infrastructure, and also has benefits for transit and walkability, I agree that it’s probably a good project. I would object more strenuously to a new, purely autocentric project such as a new highway.
      I echo Dan’s sentiment above – it is frustrating that the recently proposed $71m spending on necessary Skytrain system upgrades has attracted so much ire, when this interchange improvement is of a similar monetary value and is unquestioningly accepted, at least from the media’s perspective.

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