A letter to The Province asked this:

Massey tunnel is brutal

Where does SFU city program director Gordon Price get his data indicating less use of the Massey tunnel? He claims a 7.5-per-cent drop from previous years.

Which years? He obviously doesn’t live south of the tunnel.

–  Jim MacDonald, Ladner

The total number of vehicles per day in 2008 was 390,972, which reflects a minor decrease of 2.6% from 401,227 vehicles in 2004; the greatest decreases were at the Deas Tunnel (-7.5%) and the Pattullo Bridge (5.8%).

– p. 46,  TransLink 2008 Regional Screenline Survey

Do these facts matter?  They should, of course – how else can we make decisions, set priorities, avoid waste?

But in another way, they don’t – or at least they don’t trump people’s personal perceptions.  When I posted the chart that demonstrated traffic counts have dropped to 1965 levels in and out of downtown Vancouver, said one reader: “Well then, they have to explain why it doesn’t feel that way.”

It’s somewhat analogous to temperature data* that indicate, once again, “the 10 hottest years on record have been in the last 12 years. The 20 hottest years on record have been in the last 30 years. There is a lot of science around this.”  And yet, it matters not a whit to those whose beliefs and benefits would be negatively affected if they acknowledged climate change.

One figure Price can’t mess with: the Massey tunnel is over 50 years old and most assuredly not designed to handle the peak loads being experienced today.

So let’s spend a billion to increase tunnel capacity, worsen congestion downstream, accelerate sprawl upstream, and, after we’ve loaded up with debt, cut funding for transit that might actually make a difference.


* [T]he last 12 months have been the hottest since recorded-keeping started in 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Average temperatures in the continental US for the month of June were a full 2 degrees above the average for the 20th century. … NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center says that the odds of this heat wave occurring randomly would be 1 in 1,594,323.