Business & Economy
August 14, 2017

Big Bridge Changes, Big Bridge Rethink?

Vancouver Sun Image
From CBC via Price Tags Editor Ken Ohrn is the notification that “four of the five members of the Transportation Investment Corporation board, which oversees B.C.’s Port Mann Bridge, have been removed by the provincial government.” 
That’s right- “In an Order In Council formally approved on Friday, chair Daniel Doyle and directors Anne Stewart, Clifford Neufeld and former finance minister Colin Hansen had their appointments rescinded.” One person remains, Irene Kerr who is the CEO of TI Corp and will be on the board until the end of 2018. TI Corp is the governmental creation that managed the construction of the bridge and the subsequent tolling on this and the Golden Ears Bridge.

While the Port Mann is not making money as projected from tolls, it is still projected to pay for itself . The 2017 B.C. budget suggested that losses of  $88 million dollars in 2017 and $90 million dollars in 2018 are expected. The TI Corp was also to provide “support” for the implementation of the ‘George Massey Tunnel Replacement  Project-when will he NDP government be announcing what they are doing with that vast overbuilt  project?
Meanwhile south of the Fraser  City of Richmond Councillor Carol Day supports the transit idea of the  Mayor of Delta who was pleading for a ten lane bridge, and for a rapid transit connection to get that bridge. Councillor Day calls the refusal of the Mayors’ Council to consider rapid transit to Delta  the “special sort of short sightedness that is iconic of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. This creates a piecemeal approach to infrastructure that approves individual projects in isolation of one another without sufficient consideration of the future.”
Councillor Day further notes: “Mayor Jackson is absolutely right in saying that we have to think about building capacity for 75 years into the future rather than merely extending existing transit lines. We will be able to plan out a much more efficient transit network if all current and potential projects support each other and a unified vision.” 
It is going to be an interesting time as the new Provincial government reviews and unravels the truths and myths about the Massey Tunnel crossing, and evaluates what will work  best for the Fraser River crossing in Delta-where, how, and why.

Richmond News Image

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It’s a new day but not in Delta where the City Manager and the Mayor continued their advocacy for a very big bridge last night at Delta Council. A large reader board went up at the Massey Tunnel urging everyone to Build a Bridge Now, with a website address that just goes straight to Delta Municipal Hall.
Meanwhile as Jennifer Saltman reports in the Vancouver Sun some cooler heads are thinking it through across the Fraser River in the City of Richmond. There the Director of Transportation has written a pretty comprehensive report asking for a complete review of the proposed Massey crossing options, noting the misinformation, and asking Richmond to stop all work towards a bridge crossing. The report was adopted by eight of the nine council members.
The frustration of the City of Richmond with the Province’s one sided process was evident in the comments made by the Mayor . “We have been trying to constructively comment on this proposal from the first day it was announced. We have been disregarded and ignored in the questions that we have asked” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie.
A ten lane bridge supportive of trucking traffic and Delta Port would lead to more industrialization along the Fraser, as well as creating traffic bottlenecks on either side of the bridge. The Richmond report examined two tunnel alternatives, one  “improving the existing four-lane Massey Tunnel and adding a second two- or four-lane tunnel that accommodates high-occupancy vehicles and transit.” 
The report also addresses the fear mongering that the Corporation of Delta has promoted in saying that the tunnel will collapse in a magnitude 6.5 earthquake. “Richmond points out that the tunnel can be upgraded to sustain a one-in-475-year earthquake, which is on par with other major structures such as the Lions Gate, Ironworkers Memorial, Oak Street and Queensborough bridges. It’s estimated that the work will cost $590 million.” While Delta stats that a ten lane bridge is cheaper than the tunnel, Richmond noted that a crossing with less lanes could be built for the same cost, and surprise, a small project “would also mitigate concerns about environmental or land impacts”.
And Delta’s stats about tunnel safety? ICBC notes that there were 270 collisions annually in the tunnel-compare that with ” the Knight Street Bridge and interchanges had an average of 420 crashes per year, and the Alex Fraser had almost 290 crashes per year.” As the Mayor of Richmond noted “Whatever the solution is at the end of the day, as long as it moves along, is expedited and it cleans up the mess that is that horror show of the Massey Tunnel, I’m in full support of it”.


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