I ask it today in the Langley Times:

More Fraser bridges urged Get Moving B.C. lobby group offers up transportation wish list
By Jeff Nagel – Langley Times – December 28, 2007
With the new Golden Ears bridge linking Langley and Maple Ridge under construction, a Lower Mainland transportation lobby group is calling for more Fraser River crossings ….
[Get Moving B.C.] wants the province to build the Tree Island Bridge to connect Highway 91 directly to Marine Way at Byrne Road.
That would create a straight route for Vancouver-bound traffic heading over the Alex Fraser Bridge that now dog legs either east or west via the Queensborough or Knight Street bridges.
Tree Island connector
SFU City Program director Gordon Price said he wouldn’t be surprised if the transportation ministry does pursue more Fraser crossings after Gateway is built….
“What these guys want to do is continue locking people in to their cars and trucks,” he said of Get Moving’s wish list. “What you’re building is a complete freeway web.”
He also asks how such an expansion can be reconciled with the premier’s goal to slash B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions one third by 2021.
“What are the places they want us to be more like? Is it Calgary or Phoenix or where?”

It’s a question I’ll be asking the new TransLink directors – “What’s your vision for the region?” – and it’s one that Jordan Bateman answers in his blog, Langley Politics Dotcom:

I would like us to be more like Portland (rated the #1 most sustainable city in the US in nearly every poll): with plenty of bridge lanes, light rail and excellent bus service; none of which is stopped by a Berlin Wall of a river. And following Portland’s example of continuing to invest in all three: roads, rail, and buses.

Nice finesse, Jordan, and I appreciate the attempt to argue for a ‘balanced’ transportation system.  But the Portland described in the report is the consequence of a generation of road-and-bridge building that would not likely be duplicated today.  They would not, for instance, run I-5 down the east bank of the Willamette, nor build some of their bridges, like the Morrison, as extensions of the freeways.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they removed lanes from some of them in the future, as they did the expressway that ran down the west bank.
Today, Portland doesn’t build new roads and bridges or replace old ones without first establishing that transit – whether streetcar or light rail – will be budgeted into the project, and will shape the land-use that accompanies the infrastructure. 
Langley is doing nothing of the sort.  In fact, the message is clear: the Province is building roads and bridges – big ones – and not budgeting seriously for transit that will make a difference in shaping land use.  You’d be nuts to move to Langley without a car or truck, since there will be no other option from now to the foreseeable future.


  1. I would agree that Langley is the absolutely worst example of sprawl and suburbia in the region. However, Jordan has been calling for a change in transit strategies, where we build before demand. Although, see how well that has worked on the Millennium Line…
    I’ll take a look at their proposal. That Tree Island Bridge would be very useful though. It was in the original Transport 2021 plan. Following the recent expansion of the 91A just before the Queenborough, New Westminster has been absolutely stupid and allowed for huge residential and commerical developments on both sides of this highway. The perfect recipe for sprawl, which has in fact just filled the highway back up. That’s even with a new overpass for the free flow of traffic. I once waited over 15 minutes to leave a Wal-Mart and get onto the Queensborough – longer than it takes to get onto the Port Mann! And yes, that’s in a car, because there are no transit routes available there yet!

  2. When a friend or family member asks where I’m working (Vancouver), the next question is, “How long does it take you to get there?” They’re generally sympathetic at the response.
    We’re planning to move to Langley from Cloverdale in 2 – 5 years (soon as we can reasonably afford it) and my only consolations are that a) I’ll have a bus service more frequent than I do now and b) things can only get better. Things are not likely to get better for Cloverdale-to-SkyTrain commuting any time soon. And yes, I would be moving to Langley without a car for myself. We drive everywhere for groceries and on occasion it occurs to me why we’re not walking between destinations that are very close in proximity. Maybe we would if it weren’t a busy parking lot in between?

  3. Note that five of the Willamette crossings in Portland are lift or swing spans. There is too much marine traffic on the Fraser for any low-level bridges to be practical.

  4. I would expect a bridge at Boundary Rd. would also work well.
    There was talk of a replacement for the Patullo Bridge east of the Patullo anchored into a sandbar. I think that would work well to supplement the Patullo Brudge (with the Patullo being downgraded to 2 or 3 lanes).
    Of course the problem with building inter-municipal bridges is that you’d either have to get the two municipalities to agree to a funding formula (which neither can likely afford) or get on the transportation planning agendas of either Translink or the Province.

  5. WRT the Portland area, aren’t the two major I-5 commuting bridges from Vancouver Washington across the Columbia River being replaced and widened? to 6 lanes each?
    So when examining connectivity for Portland versus Vancouver , BC, the bridges across the Williamette River are equivalent to Vancouver’s bridges across False Creek – closely spaced and adjacent to downtown – while Portland’s I-5 bridges are equivalent to the Port Mann Bridge – far from the city’s core.
    So in terms of bridge connectivity, the question is whether suburban cores/regional town centres like downtown New Westminster and Surrey are “allowed” to have more crossings to foster growth in their downtowns – or whether they are to be kept “down” because they are the “suburbs” and don’t “need” the same infrastructure as a “real” downtown (this, despite the fact that Vancouver’s downtown bridges were built at a time when the downtown penninsula was mostly populated by single family houses).

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