Sandor Gyarmati in the Delta Optimist reports that the Premier knows what is good for you and the Massey Bridge will “make a huge difference in the lives of those who live south of the Fraser”. Now that is kind of strange thing to say when you are defending the expenditure of $3.5 billion dollars (projected to go over budget according to many sources).
There are other alternatives that would have made a huge difference in the lives of everyone north and south of the Fraser River, including placing this bridge in an area to the east that is not impacting the most arable farmland in Canada. They could have seriously looking at other alternatives to the bridge such as twinning the tunnel, and simply doing some things that are done globally in other “congestion” situations, such as limiting truck traffic during peak times, or getting the port to operate on a 24 hour basis, like every other port in North America. Under the thin veil of talking about “jobs” and “congestion” it is assumed that citizens are not smartly analyzing the lack of public process and the wrong-headed direction which right from the start has nixed the tunnel. And no one is saying the real reason for the tunnel being taken out, which is for the Port (a federal not provincial agency) to dredge and industrialize the Fraser River for deeper, bigger boats carrying coal and liquid natural gas to Asia. It is all a very 20th century approach. A $3.5 billion dollar 20th century approach.
But never mind that, here is the Premier’s response last week in Delta. “I would argue, even more importantly, you can cross the river on the bridge and know you’re doing it safely with your kids in the car. It (current tunnel) so desperately needs seismic upgrading, I worry about people using that tunnel now. I think that will be a big improvement for people in South Delta”.
This is all a little weird as the previous Minister of Transportation stated that the tunnel was good for decades. But now it is the “s” words, safety, seismic, to go with “jobs” and “congestion” and spending $3.5 billion dollars for a bridge determined by the Mayors’ Council to be in the wrong place. But back to the Premier. “I promised that we would do this four years ago before the last election. We have spent four years with the scientists and geotechnical people and consulting with the community, and four years later we’re getting on with it..When I promise to do something, we get it done.”
You can take a look at the document list and the skinny public process here. This is one of those projects where the end, a bridge, was kind of foregone conclusion. There’s been a couple of meetings here and there, but no active dialogue or response. And in terms of addressing the fact that all the Metro Vancouver mayors except for the Mayor of Delta did not want a bridge located here? Nothing.
But on to the “benefits”. The Premier states you will have “reduced congestion” (which could be solved by more transit and eliminating trucks at peak periods in the current tunnel). You will have “improved safety” (of course you also have ten lanes of traffic). And my favourite-there will “13,000 fewer tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions”, because instead of idling at peak times all those vehicles will be proceeding at speed. There’s no factor for the increased emission resulting from the induced vehicle demand a new bridge will bring. And strangely, no comparison to the Port Mann bridge, or whether this is really worth $3.5 billion dollars.
Sometimes when you promise to do something, you have to make sure it is the right work, not just doing the work right.