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The Production of Motordom: Delta Division

November 8, 2012

Neil Salmond, one of our Motordom correspondents, picked up on today’s release from the Province:

B.C. and Delta partner on Highway 99 corridor improvements

DELTA – The government of British Columbia and the Corporation of Delta are partnering on $7 million worth of upgrades to roads along the Highway 99 corridor to improve safety and access for motorists, and reduce congestion on both sides of the highway.

A new 80th Street off-ramp will be constructed to connect motorists travelling on Highway 99 southbound to Ladner Trunk Road at 80th Street. The new off-ramp to 80th Street will increase access to areas south of Highway 99. 

Full release here.

 Neil: “The text sounds like a (Charles) Marohn parody: ‘important enhancements to the local highway network … improvements are an important step towards addressing some of the transportation challenges in our community.”


The justification language is, as always, couched in terms of safety and mobility:

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Mary Polak:  “We’re partnering with the Corporation of Delta to make a difference to safety and mobility along the Highway 99 corridor through the community.”

Delta Mayor Lois E. Jackson: “These improvements are an important step towards addressing some of the transportation challenges in our community, and at the same time increase safety and access for motorists and businesses, especially those operating at Boundary Bay Airport.”

Transit does get mentioned: “The project includes widening Highway 99 to provide priority access for public transit vehicles travelling through the interchange when this portion of the South Fraser Perimeter Road opens next year.”  But as with the Port Mann Bridge, the asphalt and concrete will be funded; the buses will not.

Unstated: the impacts on land use, the ALR and local air quality. 

Implications: “The intersections of Ladner Trunk Road and Hornby Drive (south of Highway 99) and Ladner Trunk Road and 96th Street (north of Highway 99) will also be widened to four lanes to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion in the area.”

This may be of more consequence that any other part of the project: the continual widening of roads, speeding up the traffic, making it unsafe and unpleasant for cycling and walking, separating land uses, justifying high parking requirements.  In other words, the ongoing (even accelerating) production of Motordom as the unquestioned standard for our future. 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2012 2:21 pm

    Thanks Gordon! I’d point your readers to

    1. Your previous post about justifying such expenditure I haven’t seen any economic analysis of this $7m and I would love to.

    2. Marohn’s excellent Strong Towns blog, podcast and book. In particular his highlighting of maintenance costs: Delta is now on the hook for maintaining even more asphalt.

    Every time we develop, we have to ask whether what we get is an improvement on what was there before. Will these public investments act as multipliers on the surrounding private land to such an extent that maintenance of the new surface can easily be covered. Or will this public “investment” simply land Delta with a larger maintenance bill, more drivers (with all the health, wealth and carbon implications) and lower downtown revenues.

    A road that connects two towns is probably a good investment. But, with that road in place, is a wider road a good investment? What would the return to BC be, for example, if that $7m were used for “economic gardening”, to help 100 businesses in Delta add one employee, or grow revenue by 10%.

    You don’t deal with congestion by adding more lanes: you deal with congestion by better land use regulations, and more efficient modes. After I-don’t-know-how-many-years British Columbia apparently still doesn’t get this.

    I’d much prefer Jordan Bateman and the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation to get upset about this use of taxpayer funds than about Bixi

  2. Tim permalink
    November 9, 2012 1:34 pm

    History of the Massey Tunnel by Global TV morning news

  3. guest permalink
    November 9, 2012 3:34 pm

    It’s to serve growing industrial space at Boundary Bay Airport:

    Major distribution centre proposed for Boundary Bay Airport
    June 28, 2012

    Real estate investment company Dayhu Group is proposing to build a 900,000-square-foot commercial distribution centre on industrial land at Boundary Bay Airport.

    The company has signed an agreement with the Corporation of Delta to move ahead with the project.

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