Gateway project will fail, planning prof warns
The Province: Thursday, April 05, 2007
The whole theory that somehow the success of the port depends on the truckers is totally bogus. Yes, there are a few trucks at the port, but the vast majority of the freight that passes through Vancouver to and from the rest of North America does so on trains. The trucks are for the small amount of stuff that is for the local area – and that which is being resorted at places like the HBC distribution centre in Richmond. For most container traffic, the best distribution systems are designed to leave the container loaded and locked up between the shipper and its ultimate destination. That is how companies like WalMart make their money. But the vast majority of the tonnage handled by our port is bulk cargo – raw materials ripped from the ground and shipped abroad with little processing or value added. Way to grow, Canada!
The Port of Vancouver is one of the few international terminals I have observed that works five days a week, eight hours a day. If there was any real sense of urgency, or real need to deal with congestion – or get a decent rate of return on the capital employed in the large pieces of equipment like gantry cranes – it would be working 24/7. But drive down Deltaport Way on a Saturday or Sunday – it’s good for dyke walking and bird watching – and you will be charmed by the peace and quiet. No trucks! (And, by the way, the most efficient system we have – the tugs and barges moving bulk materials around the region on the river and across the Strait – do indeed work 24/7.)
The only reason for doubling the Port Mann is to make more room for single occupant vehicles. That might even work, if they didn’t at the same time insist on widening the approaches. Why they think there will be less congestion when the ratio of approach lanes to bridge lanes stays constant is beyond me! Instead of queues on four lanes we will have queues on eight. That’s twice the pollution, and twice the pressure on the rest of the road network that has to deal with the collection and distribution of the new trips generated by the project.
I once asked a MoTH person at a meeting of the ITE how many trucks on the Port Mann were headed for the Port. I didn’t get an answer.