Monday, February 13, 2017

Looking forward to a new bridge

This was a response to a letter to the editor in the Optimist. It was not printed in the Optimist but the Richmond News did run a copy of it.
RE: ‘Looking forward to a new bridge’ Optimist January 20.

Five years into the bridge discussion, personal preferences still seem to rule opinions.

The issue of the bridge is not one of transit/transportation. YES access over the Fraser needs to be improved. There is no question that the tunnel is inadequate.

The Fehmarn tunnel planned between Denmark and Germany is over 17 km long and priced at approx $4 billion. It includes four traffic lanes and a transit lane and there is no concern over safety.

The Massey tunnel has had an unequaled safety record during its lifespan. The only safety concerns are government spin. That and the ‘dilapidated’ appearance of the tunnel are meant to convince us the tunnel is not safe.

What we need to understand is the hidden agenda with the bridge. This agenda has nothing to do with transit infrastructure.

The bridge is an excuse to remove the Massey tunnel. The tunnel is the only obstacle stopping the Port from dredging the Fraser River. Once dredged, the intent is to make the Fraser Surrey Docks a deep sea port to handle more trade with China.

The bridge is a vanity project for the Federal Government and the Port of Vancouver, not just Christy Clark. There is a reason our member of parliament is quiet on the subject of an environmental review. There are international interests at stake. If the Province can sell the idea of the bridge, the Port hopes to slip the planned harbour in without the appropriate studies or planning affecting traffic or the Fraser Delta and Estuary.

The result of this is an incredibly poorly planned and expensive piece of traffic infrastructure that does not serve greater Vancouver. It only serves those of us who chose to live South of the Fraser, irrespective of the tunnel.

Yes there is growth South of the Fraser and this needs to be addressed. A 10 lane bridge will increase this growth exponentially causing ‘urban sprawl’. Urban sprawl is the most expensive type of municipal area and growth to service.

The “Pacific Gateway” plan is the federal initiative driving this bridge. BC taxpayers will end up paying for it.  We will pay for its construction, we will pay for crossing it and Delta taxpayers will end up paying for the urban sprawl it generates.

It’s our responsibility to inform ourselves. All three levels of government are being less than truthful on this issue.

Peter van der Velden


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