Archive for August 19th, 2010

New highway won’t help tunnel – Then why build a new highway?

August 19, 2010

Now the truth comes out, the new Gateway highway being built across Delta farm land won’t reduce truck traffic through the tunnel. Mind you we knew this years ago, but the provincial government and transportation minions said “oh no, Gateway would take a lot of trucks off the 99 highway (with implications of reducing truck traffic through the tunnel)”.

But of course, the multi billion dollar Gateway highways and bridge building program, like the RAV/Canada and SkyTrain metro lines, has nothing to do with alleviating transportation problems in the region, rather its is all about land development, particularly taking precious farmland out of the Agriculture Land Reserve!

Gateway has proven current SkyTrain/metro planning is unaffordable, thus for the foreseeable future, ‘rubber on asphalt’ transit solutions will be the order of the day……..unless the region starts building with much cheaper light rail and very much cheaper TramTrain.

What of course is not mentioned  is extending the RAV/Canada Line metro across Richmond and the South Arm of the Fraser River to South Delta, simply because it is far too expensive to do so. The new $2.8 billion metro line, while basking in the limelight with the many platitudes from the Liberal government and mainstream media, sits like a great ‘white elephant’ as it is just too costly to extend in Richmond, let alone across the South Arm of the Fraser River!

Blinkered 1950’s transit planning has hamstrung the taxpayer with gold plated SkyTrain/RAV metro and an ever growing freeway network and earning the Vancouver Metro area a deserved name of L.A. North!

New highway won’t help tunnel

Provincial projections show only slight dip in truck traffic once South Fraser Perimeter Road opens

By Sandor Gyarmati, The Delta Optimist

August 18, 2010

Truck traffic in the George Massey Tunnel won’t decrease much when the South Fraser Perimeter Road is completed.

The provincial government’s projections obtained by the Optimist note truck traffic through the tunnel currently stands at about 15,600 trips daily, while the projected number after the highway opens will be 15,000 per day.

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Dave Crebo said the biggest impact the SFPR is likely to have on traffic patterns in South Delta is to divert trips from the Highway 17/River Road corridor.

Coun. Scott Hamilton, who commutes to work through the tunnel daily, said Delta knew and has been saying all along the reduction of trucks through the tunnel would be minimal.

Interviewed by phone as he was about to drive through the 51-year-old tunnel, Hamilton said a Delta-commissioned study a few years ago backed up the contention that the impact on truck traffic would be insignificant. Deltaport expansion would also level out any drop in trucks the tunnel might experience, he noted.

“The studies have already been done way back and the percentage of truck traffic that would turn north through the tunnel was extremely high compared to what they were trying to make people believe,” he said.

The current daily traffic count through the tunnel stands at 95,000. According to the provincial government’s estimates, the tunnel will not see a significant traffic increase in the next few years.

Hamilton, though, said the tunnel numbers would only grow due to an increasing population base south of the Fraser River, especially in South Surrey/White Rock.

“You take a look at the modest growth Delta has had, especially in South Delta over the last 20 years, and it’s nothing compared to various areas of South Surrey and White Rock. That’s what’s impacted the tunnel and caused the problems along Highway 99.”

Development in South Delta will also play a role in increased traffic heading north into Richmond and Vancouver.

Dave Turner of Halcrow Engineering, who conducted a Tsawwassen traffic study, said it’s a given that any residential development here will have some impact on the tunnel. He said the housing development at the Tsawwassen Golf and Country Club will result in a modest increase but the bigger impact will likely occur if the population projections from development on the Tsawwassen First Nation reserve hold true.

The SFPR will help alleviate some of that population increase because the new road will redistribute traffic movements on the south side of the river, said Turner.

The government’s projected daily traffic count for the SFPR is 22,000 vehicles daily.

The $1 billion, four-lane highway will stretch from the ports at Roberts Bank to the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s expected to be completed by 2013.

Tunnel congestion and what to do about it certainly isn’t a new issue for South Delta. Back in 1987, for example, then MLA Walter Davidson warned that population growth south of the Fraser would overload bridges and the Massey Tunnel during rush hour by 1996.

He noted a Richmond municipal engineering report suggested the expansion of the Massey Tunnel and Alex Fraser and Port Mann bridges. Davidson said the Alex Fraser Bridge, which opened the previous year, had alleviated bottlenecks at the tunnel and Port Mann but rush hour back ups were already starting again.

Hamilton said he’s seen first-hand how traffic has changed from bad to better and then growing much worse again.

“I remember when they opened the Alex Fraser Bridge, for example, back in 1986 and you could have shot a cannon down the middle of that bridge and not worry about hitting anything at eight o’clock in the morning. Now sometimes traffic is backed up to Highway 10 … the commute through the tunnel isn’t going to get any better, that’s for sure.”

Hamilton said tunnel traffic won’t be alleviated unless a new crossing is built. The new Port Mann Bridge won’t be much help for northbound traffic from South Delta, he added.

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