The City of Surrey is ready to “speed up traffic”, reports the Surrey Now-Leader, in transportation news from the second-most populous city in Metro Vancouver (and the province).
Going into a civic election in October this year, Surrey council has decided that congestion is a noteworthy issue, and that the city can build its way out of congestion by widening roads and improving bridge interchanges. It’s called the Congestion Relief Strategy (2019 – 2023).
To be fair, there is mention of “complete streets” and bike lanes. But it comes along with potential widening of the roads that parallel the light rail lines, to maintain capacity on them.
Key outcomes of the strategy include:
- 120 km of lanes added to the Surrey road network
- 14 km of new protected cycle tracks and multi-use pathways
- 13 intersections with capacity improvements
- 9 km of road improvements, not included in the 10-year plan
- 5 km of long term 10-YSP road projects advanced
- 5 new/improved bridges/interchanges with Highway 99 in South Surrey (subject to an agreement with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on cost-sharing)
- Detectors installed to gather travel time data for better decision-making and enhanced real-time travel information for drivers.
All to the tune of $360M over the next 10 years.
It’s a great example of the thinking that suggests: “We will build our way out of traffic congestion”. As in, another 120 km of car lanes, more and better bridges and interchanges, and that’ll fix congestion. Well, for a while at least. Until the new road capacity has enabled the next round of low-density car-oriented subdivisions and retail complexes, and the motordom merry-go-round takes another spin.
Not to mention the political prominence accorded to residents’ never-satisfied complaints about “congestion”. Which covers for the totally unrealistic expectation that on any car trip, the car should rarely stop rolling. A.K.A. “reducing travel time”.
It’s also a small-scale example of the consequences of sprawl, amid dozens of other consequences (thinking health problems due to inactivity). Larger-scale examples, right in front of our eyes, include several multi-billion dollar bridges, complete with massive freeways and interchanges. All to subsidize the car-dependent suburban lifestyle. And this is just another lock-in.
On a crass political note, the spokesperson for this spending is current Surrey councillor Tom Gill, also now running for mayor in the fall election, along with (possibly) several other incumbents from council. Judging from social media and other low-level sources of voter sentiment, “congestion” is an ever-popular topic, and decisive action, with the attendant media halo, needs only an incumbent politician to promise “more and bigger and wider roads”. Oh yeah, and so what if it means spending a bunch of money.
As to alternatives — again, those few bike lanes and multi-use paths. But the interesting snippet is that roads parallel to the light rail lines are going to get some widening to ensure that them stinkin’ trains don’t interfere with motor vehicle capacity (see July 19, 2018 staff report HERE, page 4). So it seems that light rail is a problem-causing impediment to real travellers.
To support Surrey-Newton-Guildford Light Rail Transit (“SNG-LRT”) a focus on improving parallel corridors to maintain mobility and circulation for all modes of transportation, and improving connections to the stations to attract and ensure accessibility for all users, is required. . . . the Congestion Relief Strategy, 2019-2023 will investigate the technical and financial feasibility of widening 104 Avenue to 4-lanes along the entire length of the SNG-LRT alignment with potential inclusion in the Strategy.
It’s an interesting declaration of political stance and motordom focus.
Photo credit: City of Surrey.