Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Port Mann Bridge Expansion Plan “Cannot Succeed” – report

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Vancouver, BC – “The BC government’s proposed solution to congestion on the Highway 1/Port Mann corridor cannot succeed” according to a new report released today by local business consultant Evan Robinson, MBA.

When the Public-private partnership to build the bridge fell through earlier this year, Premier Gordon Campbell decided to borrow money on behalf of the province to build the bridge. Campbell claimed that the project would be revenue neutral because tolls would cover the cost within the timeline of the 40 year maintenance plan.

The report entitled The Port Mann Mega Bridge – Taking it’s Toll on the Tax Payer, shows that BC residents will still be paying for the proposed new Port Mann mega-bridge even after it’s older than the current 40 year-old bridge.

We took a close look at traffic and revenue projections, and it’s clear we simply cannot both break even financially and reduce congestion over 40 years. The two outcomes are completely incompatible. If traffic grows enough to pay for the bridge with tolls, there will be too much traffic for the bridge to carry,” said Robinson.

“We have been working with Evan and others with a background in business and economics to see if the province’s numbers add up, and we have learned that not only does this project not make ecological sense but it doesn’t make economic sense either,” said Ben West, Healthy Communities campaigner with the Wilderness Committee.

The Wilderness Committee along with other groups has raised concerns about increased global warming carbon emissions as the result of the Gateway project highway expansion which includes the Highway 1/Port Mann expansion. Currently 35% of BC’s emissions come from automobiles, the single biggest source.

“Relying upon toll revenue builds in an incentive to increase automobile usage, but even if we double traffic over the new bridge it won’t cover the cost, and doubling the traffic leaves us idling in place just like the commuters on the Port Mann do every day. This sort of investment is the opposite of what we need to do if we are serious about reducing traffic congestion, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing our dependence upon a dwindling supply of fossil fuels,” said Robinson who is a member of the Vancouver Peak Oil Network executive.

“If this project goes forward as planned we will be paying the price for decades to come in more ways than one. There’s just no way it works out right,” said West.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 17, 2009 at 8:13 am

Posted in Gateway

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. It’s hard to have confidence in this report.

    – It assumes construction overruns will be paid by the provincial government, but the signed contract requires Kiewit-Flatiron to pay them.

    – It assumes tolls won’t rise, but it’s been announced they will.

    – It suggests the project will be a P3 with tolls going to the private partner, but that’s not true.

    – It seems to equate congestion with traffic volume. But different designs will handle the same traffic volume differently.

    – Fundamental points like whether the 127,000 trips per day is for 365 or 250 days per year aren’t resolved! There’s a Gateway info line and e-mail. The author should have picked up the phone.

    It may be true that the economic case for the bridge isn’t there, but this report doesn’t make the case.

    Tim

    July 17, 2009 at 10:04 am


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