Friday, June 6, 2014

This was written in September of 2013 when the bridge issue first came to play. It was sent to to the Vancouver Sun and the Delta Optimist but not printed.
As you will probably agree the decision to replace the Massey Tunnel is continuing to raise a lot of commentary. Not surprisingly as the decision continues to seem purely political.

It would be interesting to see the public input that Premier Clark states would have the tunnel replaced and a bridge put in its place. Certainly here in the most affected Delta area no-one would have dreamed of this scenario. Accept, of course, Mayor Jackson. It seems highly unlikely that Richmond would be interested as it only exacerbates their difficult access to Vancouver. The North Delta area as well as White Rock would also not be real interested in this proposal as it would appear to invite the coal terminal. Our Americans neighbors don’t want this coal shipped from their ports. Not surprisingly as it will eventually mean 18 (yes, 18) 1 mile long trains of coal per day with the ensuing environmental issues.

This brings us to the crux of the matter. Why is this bridge in the offing? Besides the political maneuvering of the Liberal party, that is. There is only one reason and Premier Clark has made it clear that this why the tunnel is being removed and not kept. The expansion of the Fraser River port system. Removing the tunnel will allow larger ships up the Fraser to the Surrey docks. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this comes at a time when the US coal producers are looking for a port to ship their product from.

This is the only reason the “aging” tunnel is marked for the recycling bin. The tunnel is-and will continue-to be useable for quite some time. There really is no other reason to decommission it.

The REALLY sad part of all of this maneuvering is that the REAL traffic congestion will not be dealt with. The Richmond bottleneck will only get worse with improved traffic from the Delta region. And make no mistake; once the Port has expanded there will be more need for housing on this side and traffic will get worse.

This brings us to the final factor in all of this, the Tsawwassen first nations (TFN) development proposals. Has anyone wondered how it got to be that a 1.5 Million square feet (yes that figure is correct) “Destination” Mall was planned for this part of the world? When it is surrounded by Malls in Richmond and Surrey and has no population base for any mall development? Everyone here has been scratching their collective heads wondering how such a development could ever survive. And of course, the Federal Government would never let their first Native agreement falter, so there we are. Sadly this also opens the door for the TFN to claim further lands, including any land from the Agricultural Land Reserve for “their” needs. One can only guess at the various commercial or industrial proposals they will “partner“ into because of their ability to access land around the port.

This brings me back to the beginning. If there is money to be spent on revitalizing the traffic routes from the South the tunnel needs to be a part of it. And the bridge needs to be in a location where the traffic not wanting to go to Vancouver can partially skirt the city. This would take away a lot of the congestion in Richmond and ultimately make the most efficient overall system. It would undoubtedly be cheaper and allow for mass transit to be funded as part of the cost. And yes, the port expansion would not happen. Sometimes we need to look at the quality of life issues before we look at the economy. Either that or look at in tandem rather than base all of our decisions on economic factors alone.
The next posting, about the casino should state that it was written in June of 2013, NOT 2014!

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