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Massey Tunnel: Quote and Correction

March 13, 2013

A piece from News 1130 on the Massey Tunnel:

No need to build more Massey Tunnel capacity: expert

Argues it would bring on new problems

RICHMOND (NEWS1130) – Are concerns about increasing congestion at the Massey Tunnel overblown?

In a News1130 follow-up, one transportation expert argues there is no need to increase capacity under the Fraser on Highway 99, as it would only give us a different set of problems.

“It was the Minister of Transportation, Kevin Falcon at the time, who said there was little point in expanding the tunnel at that point because it would just move the traffic down a few kilometres to the Oak Street bridge,” points out Gordon Price, director of SFU’s City Program.

Price also wonders why truck traffic from the expanded Deltaport would use the Massey Tunnel when billions of dollars have been spent on the South Fraser Perimeter Road and the new Port Mann Bridge.

He quotes a 2008 Regional Screenline Survey from TransLink measuring traffic volumes around the Lower Mainland, which shows the number of vehicles using the tunnel had actually dropped 7.5 per cent in previous years.

“It’s part of a pattern that seems to be bigger than just the Lower Mainland. Dropping traffic volumes in the United States — in Washington and Oregon — have been reported as well,” says Price.

He feels building more capacity only feeds the problem.

“Once you develop one piece, you assume the pressure will come from commuters to go for the next billion dollars and down goes the congestion, bridge by bridge and road expansion by road expansion. But in the end, you create more traffic and create the problem you started with, ready for the next round of expansions,” argues Price.

“It’s not good enough to just widen a bridge or build a new road,” he insists.

“You have to give people a transportation alternative, at least one. Why don’t we include transit as part of the budgets, part of the planning for these? We were promised transit buses across the Port Mann Bridge and guess what — the bridge is opening with no buses.”

.

Accurate quotes all the way – until the end.  Port Mann does have express bus service, thanks in part to the exchange built for several million at 200th Street.   (I suspect the embarrassment of not providing the service was simply too great.) While TransLink proceeded with funding that service over other priorities south of the Fraser, it still wasn’t able to find the money for a stop in Surrey. 

Nonetheless, the main point remains: Why isn’t transit included as part of any review, not ancillary to it?  The Minister of Highways and Infrastructure maintain they can provide additional road space for transit – but are not responsible for the service itself.   That’s someone else’s job, that has to come from some other funding source.

So as a consequence, planning for the road expansion omits the possibility that increased transit today could address the congestion problem that the road expansion is designed to address.  Which means that Motordom might not get their next billion-dollar project, nor generate the induced traffic to justify the next one after that. 

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