“Tunnel needs replacement: expert”
It almost beggars belief, but when Canwest is the organisation that is delivering the news, do not expect anything like objectivity. Once again the astroturf group “Get Moving BC” manages to get more column inches than any of the real citizen based, grass roots organisations opposed to freeways do. And for a proposal which is way beyond any stupidity that has so far been visited on this region. They trot out Patrick O’Connor as the author of the report – and claim he is an “expert” – but an expert in what? According to their own web site “The report itself was put together by a volunteer, Patrick O’Connor”
– but I still cannot find out why he might be considered to be an “expert”.
So how does the calculation get made that an eight lane bridge is needed? The tunnel currently carries 21,864 vehicles daily – so in 24 hours it moves on its 4 lanes (each has 2,000 vph capacity) rather less than three times its hourly maximum capacity. Or in other words for most of the day outside the peaks it is quite adequate. The problem of the tunnel is that more than two lanes feed into it – just like the Port Mann Bridge. On the Richmond side long line ups form along Steveston Highway because the traffic from that road plus Number 5 Road is trying to squeeze itself onto the two lane overpass which is the controlling influence on the Highway 99 intersection. The queues regularly interfere with the Steveston Highway /No 5 Road intersection. Simply replacing that two lane overpass – needed since the Riverport development opened up – would do a lot to resolve that issue. When many lanes funnel down into one or two, you need storage capacity that does not block movement in other directions. That is what is wrong on the north side. On the south side the queues are long but simply tail back through the 99/17 intersection which continues to work.
But any bridge here would need to have enough clearance for ocean going vessels – so it would be at least as high as the Alex Fraser with similar long ramps on either side. That is a lot of ALR to give up, and an incredible blot on the landscape. Just looking at the Google map it looks like the north side ramp would not touch down until Francis at least.
I expect that the calculation made by this “expert” is simply to double what is there now. Though why the tunnel has to be removed as well is beyond me. A four lane bridge and a four lane tunnel would do the same thing and at half the cost. But the congestion relief would be short lived. There has never been anywhere that I can find that has successfully conquered traffic congestion by building more roads. Indeed in the same piece it is pointed out the two track Canada Line bridge will provide the same people moving capacity as a ten lane road bridge. Indeed this is the nearest thing to “balance” that is achieved – talking to Councillor Rob Howard, who is not an expert either, just a local politician who sat on a committee once and may have read some reports.
And of course what our expert at Get Moving BC does not say is where all this newly induced traffic is going to go. Obviously, the demand on local streets will be intolerable. But not to worry they are sure to come up with all sorts of proposals to build ever wider arterials. That’s the good thing about advocating road expansions. It never stops, because traffic always fills up the space available thus creating the “need” for more.
Peak oil? Impact of vehicle emissions on us or our climate? Promotion of yet more suburban sprawl across the ALR? Not a word.