A 10-lane super bridge will replace the aging Port Mann
This is the sort of thing that spoils your lunch. I do not normally read the tab but it was provided by Dave’s Fish and Chips in Steveston. By the way this is a place I heartily recommend. The chips are actually crisp on the outside and are cut from potatoes each day, not from frozen or reconstituted from mash like so many “french fries”. They also have Russel Ales from the excellent small brewery in Surrey.
A new wider bridge is actually a whole new project and quite different to the one that was the subject of an Environmental Assessment – that was going to be a second four lane bridge next to the existing one. You can be sure that they will not go back and revisit the EA. Not that it matters since no matter what the impact they are going to build whatever they like anyway. No process – and certainly no public consultation – was ever going to stand in their way.
Of course anywhere else in the world if you conducted an EA in to a project and then by sleight of hand built a much bigger one there would be protests – or even questions in the house – maybe (shock, horror) lawsuits. Not here. We do not believe in such things.
As Eric Doherty points out on the Livable Blog the existing bridge was refurbished only a few years ago so the statement that the current bridge is in need of an upgrade is simply untrue.
“KWH carried out the seismic upgrade and widening for the full length of the bridge and approaches—2,100m total length. Over 3,000 tonnes of structural steel was erected to reinforce the bridge and cantilever the roadway.”
$35m (the cost of the last upgrade) is not chump change and I would expect that sort of work to last much longer than ten years.
Falcon said the design would include dedicated fast-bus lanes, which would enable riders to travel from Langley to Burnaby in 23 minutes.
For the past 20 years there have been no dedicated bus lanes on the Port Mann.
Once again the old saw of repeating a lie often enough and it becomes accepted as truth. There never have been bus lans in this bridge. Bus service was curtailed when the SkyBridge opened to Scott Road. Just as with the Canada Line, bus services do not compete with SkyTrain so buses from Langley were diverted to the SkyTrain station. Nothing whatever to do with bridge capacity. And the bus that is needed is one from Surrey to Coquitlam – preferably express – and that does not need an exclusive lane on the bridge – just a queue jumper lane on the south side. There is plenty of room to construct that on the hard shoulder – and such lanes are common at other crossings such as the Massey tunnel and the Lions’ Gate bridge.
SURREY – The new Port Mann Bridge will be a single, 10-lane span, Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Kevin Falcon announced today as work began on the Port Mann-Highway 1 Project with the first pile for the bridge foundation being driven into the ground.
“The new Port Mann Bridge will be a first-class, state-of-the-art connector to clear traffic congestion on a critical transportation link across the Fraser River,” said Premier Campbell. “The new bridge will give truckers, transit users and commuters a faster, more efficient trip to and from their destinations, significantly cutting travel times and improving the movement of people, goods and services. Construction of this new bridge will also create 8,000 jobs, helping to keep British Columbians working.”
“Right now, congestion on the Port Mann Bridge is approaching 14 hours a day, and it’s harming our economy, our environment and quality of life,” said Falcon. “The Port Mann-Highway 1 Project will help travelers see a time savings of up to 30 per cent due to reduced congestion. This is time better spent at their workplace or with their families.”
The capital cost of the project, including upgrades to 37 km of Highway 1 on either side of the bridge, is approximately $2.46 billion. The total cost, including operating and maintenance, rehabilitation and interest, will be released when the contract is finalized but is expected to be approximately $3.3 billion. Of that, the Province is financing $1.15 billion in the form of a repayable loan, which is being matched by bank financing. The proponent is putting forward their own equity to pay for the remaining $1 billion.
The full cost of the project will be financed through electronic tolls, which will be $3 each way for cars. The government retains control of the rate of the tolls. The project is expected to be complete by 2013.
The new bridge will replace the existing 45-year-old bridge and provide badly needed capacity to meet current and future traffic demand, including a new RapidBus service that will allow commuters to travel all the way from Langley to Burnaby SkyTrain in 23 minutes. Once the new bridge is complete, the old bridge will be removed, saving at least $180 million in maintenance, rehabilitation and seismic upgrades that would have been required. The Port Mann-Highway 1 Project will provide for the first bus service across the Port Mann Bridge in over 20 years. In addition to RapidBus service, the new bridge will be built to accommodate potential light rapid transit at a future date, and it will expand networks for cyclists and pedestrians.
The project also includes widening Highway 1, upgrading interchanges, and improving access and safety from McGill Street in Vancouver to 216th Street in Langley, a distance of approximately 37 km. One lane of highway will be added in each direction west of the new bridge, and two lanes in each direction east of the bridge, one of which will be an HOV lane.
On Jan. 28, 2009, the government reached an agreement-in-principle with Connect BC Development Group for a public-private partnership (P-3) on this project. The Connect BC Development Group team includes the Macquarie Group, Transtoll Inc., Peter Kiewit Sons Co. and Flatiron Constructors Canada Limited. Financial close is expected in early March, at which time the final terms and conditions will be finalized. The Province will provide one-third of the financing, and Connect BC will fund two-thirds.
And now the response from the Wilderness Committee
$3.3 Billion Freeway Bridge a “Super-Sized Mistake”
Surrey, BC — “Premier Campbell’s announcement about replacing the Port Mann Bridge with a $3.3 Billion super bridge is a super-sized mistake,” said Wilderness Committee Healthy Communities Campaigner Ben West.
“Adding more freeway lanes to deal with traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to deal with obesity, it just doesn’t work. If this project is allowed to proceed, it will put taxpayers on the hook for a project that will actually make traffic congestion even worse within a short period of time, and in the process also increase pollution, suburban sprawl and global warming emissions,” said West.
Premier Gordon Campbell and BC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon held a press conference today at the Port Mann Bridge to un-veil their plans for a new “super bridge”, and the demolition of the existing Port Mann Bridge. They have claimed this massive freeway expansion project will create jobs, reduce congestion and reduce carbon emissions from idling cars stuck in traffic.
“The Port Mann freeway expansion plan would create far fewer jobs than transit investment which is the only way to really deal with congestion. If they were serious about doing something about reducing pollution, slowing global warming and creating jobs, investing in improved public transit is the way to go,” said transportation planner and Livable Region Coalition Spokesperson Eric Doherty.
“They could add a ‘queue jumper’ lane and have buses running across the Port Mann within 6 months. They could also buy about 400 buses, and pay all the operating expenses, including drivers’ salaries and fuel, for 30 years for less money than this freeway expansion will cost,” said Doherty.
The BC Treasury Board estimates that about 3 times as many jobs can be created by investing in public transit than by investing in highway construction. A poll released by the Livable Region Coalition last May shows that two thirds of Lower Mainland residents would support funding for highway expansions being re-directed to public transit in light of concerns about global warming. A report by the Livable Region Coalition shows that carbon emissions would increase by about 30% as the result of the Gateway project.
“The Premier is just dead wrong about this strategy. We are encouraging BC residents to contact the Premier and their MLA to tell them how strongly they feel about re-directing funds to much needed public transit improvements,” said West.