by Rafe Arnott
Rail For The Valley spokesman John Buker said, “This is a seriously flawed project – with or without a private partner.
“It seems the government has been hypnotized by this project, and wishes to plow ahead regardless of rapidly changing circumstances.”
Buker said people in the Fraser Valley need a light rail service, citing the fact that valley taxpayers continue to fund TransLink.
“In 2013 they will be expected to pay an additional $3 toll each time they cross the Port Mann, and still there will be no light rail alternative whatsoever.”
David D. Hull, the executive director of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, said last week: “Build the bloody thing. I sat [in traffic] for a 1* hours to cross on a Friday to go have a meeting with the premier and the cabinet . . . they can’t build it fast enough.”
Hull said despite the failed partnership he thinks the government is wise in proceeding.
“The project is, frankly, 20 years past due. You’re talking about a 1963 freeway and bridge system that is horribly, horribly inadequate for today’s needs.”
Hull believes the provincial government is doing a good job of balancing transportation infrastructure between rubber and steel wheels.
“These roads and bridges are not going to be built just in isolation, they’re going to be built in conjunction with transit, and transit plans and extensions of SkyTrain systems.”
Ed Fast, Conservative MP for Abbotsford, said he was hesitant to comment on a provincial project.
“We, as a federal government, have not lobbied for that particular solution. We’ve said ‘Listen, we understand the provinces are closer to the challenges, and it’s their prerogative to make those decisions.’ ”
When asked whether the feds have a preference for expanding rail travel solutions over roads, Fast jumped on several federal initiatives focused on making it easier for goods and services to take advantage of existing rail lines, or to expand on them.
He said Abbotsford International Airport plays a huge role as a transportation hub of the province. “[The airport] holds one of the keys to the future of air travel in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley.”
It’s really too bad that David Hull didn’t have a light rail option to travel to Vancouver for his meeting with the premier. He could have relaxed and gone over his notes, instead of being stuck in traffic…..