Thursday, August 7, 2014

The $3 Billion hoodwink.

The Provincial Government asked the public for input on replacement of the Massey Tunnel. The result of this consultation and final report is an eight lane bridge. The value of this bridge is marginalized by manipulation of the public input. The real reason for the choice of a bridge appears to be dictated by Port Metro Vancouver’s need to get bigger ships up the Fraser River.

 A number of options were presented to the public. Several of these options were presented so that it was almost a given what would be chosen.

One of those options was the retention of the tunnel. As presented this option had no additional means of obtaining the desired results to “support objectives for regional people movement”, to “relieve congestion” or to “improve safety”. As a result, retaining the tunnel was not heavily supported by the public. This is not a surprise as this is exactly what the process was meant to do; pave the way for the removal of the tunnel.

This tunnel will be useful for many more years, a point proven by a similar tunnel in Rotterdam (the Netherlands). So why dismantle it? If we add the additional tunnel or bridge components necessary for public transport to take traffic off the road, the tunnel will remain effective.  This will cost a fraction of the current proposal and will better achieve the desired goals set out by both Government and the public.

The second option to have the bridge “placed in a different location” was equally set up to fail. The new location merely rerouted traffic back to Highway 99 and the Oak Street corridor. This option served neither of the two objectives to “relieve congestion” nor to apply “a visionary long term solution”.

The report allows that “most of the traffic through the tunnel goes to Richmond”. What the numbers fail to factor in is the growth from border traffic and from the “Urban Sprawl” that will be created by a large bridge. Building the bridge will encourage residential and industrial development South of the Fraser. This will put more traffic on the road, not less.  This development will also put more pressure on our dwindling farmlands. With less farmland we will need more produce shipped in, putting more trucks on the road. The dismantling of the tunnel will allow more shipping through,  creating more truck traffic. All of this will only add to the “people movement” problem.

This means that this bridge will soon create a need for an additional traffic corridor to deal with this future growth. Therefore, this bridge is not a “visionary long term solution”. A long term solution can not be reached by putting more cars on the road and adding traffic to the Oak Street corridor. If a bridge is chosen, it should be smaller, augment the tunnel, be placed in a different location and handle public transportation. This would be far more economical, effective and “visionary”.

More importantly, building the bridge where the tunnel is will turn this major traffic corridor into a nightmare for a period of 3-5 years (judging by the Alex Fraser Bridge and the #1 highway upgrades). This will not only affect Delta residents. It will affect South Surrey residents, tourism, ferry traffic and truck and commercial traffic. For some strange reason this does not appear to be a major consideration.

The less discussed and more contentious issue to BC residents is the expansion of the Federal entity, Port Metro, and its need to remove the tunnel to allow larger ships up the Fraser. At the public consultation sessions no mention was made of the issue to “support trade and commerce”. These consultations were strictly focused on traffic logistics and infrastructure. How then did ‘transportation alternatives’ get rated lower than ‘Economic Growth’ in the final report?

Certainly ‘Economic growth’ is important. However, if the desire to remove the tunnel and build a bridge is strictly for the benefit of Port Metro, then why are we paying the cost? Port Metro’s requirements should not be confused with the issue of transportation infrastructure.

At $3 billion the cost of this undertaking is a serious issue.  This amount of money could be spent more effectively to serve the “objectives for regional people movement”.  And, this price is being given to you by the same people who missed the South Fraser Perimeter Road budget by more than 100%. How much will this project really cost?

Lastly, a Media Freedom of Information request for the “business case for replacing the Massey Tunnel” turned up a 14 page response that is “almost entirely whited out” due among other things to “disclosures harmful to the financial interests of public bodies”.

With this amount of money going into the project, it is doubtful that any money will be available to deal with the real issues to “support objectives for regional people movement” or to “relieve congestion”. That cost will be handed down to you in a separate tax on top of the cost for this project. All of BC will pay if this project is allowed to go ahead. Not just those who took their time to respond to this issue.

Peter van der Velden

Facilities Management Consultant


August 6, 2014


The following is a link to the virtual bridge created and paid for by the BC Provincial Government




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