My Business in Vancouver column – Part 2:
The question, to clarify, is not the safety issues on the Pattullo Bridge; it’s the size. As TransLink continues its consultations on the future of the Pattullo, its board should revisit the option of a six-lane, billion-dollar expansion and answer these questions:
• what will be the impact of the new Port Mann Bridge, a widened Highway 1, the South Fraser Perimeter Road, the new interchanges and widened arterials?
• do we really need – or want – all that capacity for more traffic, and
• do we have the billions needed to pay for it if it means transit won’t be funded, at least not on the scale needed to make a difference in the way south of the Fraser develops?
Second, where is the traffic, especially the trucks that can’t access the Port Mann, going to go once it gets delivered to New Westminster? Does the reality of car-dependence in the growing parts of the region mean we have to, regrettably but inevitably, erode the health and quality of life for those who aren’t car dependent?
Thirdly, why does Surrey insist on a six-lane bridge? If it were a choice – a wider Pattullo or light rail – what would their leaders say? At the moment, they want both. But why build a transportation system that works really well for the car and then expect transit to compete?
By continuing to expand road space, citizens come to expect it as an entitlement and developers never take seriously more urban forms that assume less reliance on the car.
More critically, why should other parts of the region help fund expensive transit in places where it will be under-patronized, especially if it means no expansion in places where transit is already overloaded?
Or how about this scenario: if the Pattullo were closed and not replaced, would the savings allow rail in both Surrey and Vancouver to proceed simultaneously, avoiding a conflict that could split the region?
Pattullo is a turning point for south of the Fraser. Will they or won’t they choose transit over more road capacity?
Will they build a future that is essentially car-dependent or one modelled after the success of the Livable Region Plan and Vancouverism?
The lesson of the new Port Mann Bridge should by now be clear: transit may be promised, but if it’s not in the budget as part of the plan, with assured means of funding, it won’t be delivered.
Surely at this point, given the experience of the last round, it’s time to say: if no transit, then no bridge. •
Part 1 here.