The Province published an opinion piece by Eric Doherty, Bob Chitrenky, Harold Steves and Peter McCartney that provides one more flip on the strange decision to decommission the Massey Tunnel and instead overbuild a ten lane bridge at a (so far) projected price of 3.5 billion dollars. Now this bridge is in the wrong location for stimulating future growth as per Metro Vancouver’s regional plan, and every Mayor in the region has spoken out against it, except the Mayor of Delta eager to get more growth in her community. The placement of this bridge threatens the Fraser River estuary, takes up more of the most fertile farm soils in Canada, and threatens to industrialize this sensitive area of arable soils, salmon waters and migratory flyways.
But, as quoted in the Province “the biggest reason is that investing billions in an unnecessary bridge deepens our dependency on car travel at a time when many would rather take public transit — if only it were available where we live and work… We lose quality of life and affordability in a region that is already grotesquely unaffordable. We lose more of our depleted farmland base and we lose down the road as greenhouse gases rise and we are forced to spend billions more on future public infrastructure projects, such as raising the dykes to counter rising sea levels.”
“If we are to spend $4 billion of public funds (don’t for a moment think that the projected cost of the Massey Tunnel replacement bridge won’t increase — such costs invariably do) what else might we do?”
And here is the list, all cheaper that a 3.5 billion dollar bridge:
$1.32 billion– expand our fleet of buses by 750 vehicles. “Assuming a 35-per-cent recovery in operating costs from transit fares, we could operate that expanded fleet for 10 years.”
$1.3 billion-upgrade or replace” all 152 schools that pose the highest danger to students in an earthquake.”
$1.38 billion-build “5,520 affordable housing units.”
The biggest “bridge” challenge is that members of the public never got the chance to discuss this crossing decision with the Province. This bridge was concocted by the current Provincial government and handed to citizens not as a public investment in the future, but because the Province thought it was good for business.
As the Province commentary concludes “The time is long overdue to have a fulsome discussion about what the alternatives are, alternatives that could improve the livability of our region on so many fronts.”