While traffic counts are below expectations on the Port Mann Bridge, is this a result of ‘peak car,’ changing demographics, job shifting, tolls – or is being absorbed on the Pattullo Bridge, the so-called ‘free alternative’ required by provincial policy.
That’s what this commenter thinks:
I think the Pattullo Bridge is taking up most of the slack from the traffic not going on the Port Mann.
And here’s something odd — I think it’s not passenger vehicles, but trucks.
About 75% of the time I cross the Pattullo, there’s a large truck ahead of me taking up both lanes to cross the bridge.
I’ve even heard a rumour that the trucking companies have now told their drivers two things:
1. Take the Pattullo to save the bridge toll
2. Always take both lanes for “safety” reasons (And this is apparently illegal so it’s probably not in writing anywhere, but it would be fun to see that actually written out on some trucking company’s website)
I’ve been crossing the Pattullo for 30 years, and it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve seen this many trucks taking both lanes on the Pattullo. Since the bridge hasn’t actually shrunk, and I’m assuming that trucks haven’t gotten wider, it must be because of the toll bridge.
When it comes to spending hard-earned taxpayers dollars (of which there is no other kind), why do we fail to appreciate the scale of expenditure when huge numbers are involved? Why, in particular, do we criticize government waste when the numbers are small – hello, Madame Speaker – but often suspend judgment when the numbers are big?
Take the Pattullo Bridge, for instance.
The City of New Westminster released the 33-page report, A Reasonable Approach: A Perspective on the Pattullo Bridge, on Wednesday. … Jim Lowrie, the city’s director of engineering, said a new tolled four-lane bridge would cost $850 million and a rehabilitated four-lane bridge would cost $250 million. He said that compares to a $1.5 billion estimated cost of a new six-lane bridge.
Surrey Coun. Tom Gill, chair of the city’s transportation and infrastructure committee, told the Surrey NOW that … it should have six lanes. He said rehabilitating of the Pattullo Bridge isn’t viable and is a “poor choice” in utilizing taxpayer’s money. … “I would go as far as to say that we should be concentrating on a six-lane bridge.”
Note that the dispute is over the number of lanes, not the number of dollars. It’s assumed that we will spend whatever we need to get what we want, not what we can afford. The difference in cost between four and six lanes looks to be a relatively minor consideration. The dispute between New West and Surrey is more about downstream impacts than on the efficient use of hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars.
But look at that difference: $650 million – a number that is essentially incomprehensible for the average person.
Here’s a way of thinking about it. A million, most people would agree, is a lot. A million seconds, for instance, works out to be just under the equivalent of 12 days.
And 650 million seconds? Just over 20 years.
Given the huge difference and what we could buy for $650 million – hello, Surrey light rail – shouldn’t the debate be about whether we could get by with a smaller structure if it served our needs, especially if we used market mechanisms to drive out waste? Indeed, why isn’t the first part of the discussion about what would provide the best return for the least cost, rather than the number of lanes?
Of course, the same thing is going on with the Massey Crossing. Just triple the numbers.
France Bula does an even-handed article – How Vancouver’s Olympic Legacy Is Shaping the Future of Transit – for ULI’s UrbanLand magazine here.
Much of the piece is about the legal and financial structure of the Canada Line that was used to transfer risk from the public to private sectors – or at least the justifications used for the P3. Bula sums it up:
Before the project was built, a TransLink subsidiary determined that the public would save C$92 million (US$84 million) overall, compared with the cost of doing the project the traditional way. That assessment, however, is based on assigning $260 million to all those risks InTransitBc was assigned—risks that may or may not actually cost the company real money. Take that risk premium away, and traditional construction penciled out $141 million cheaper.
Matti Siemiatycki, a University of Toronto professor of geography and planning, notes that P3s often appear on paper to be a better value because of these risk premiums. But he says there often are “no publicly available data to determine whether such large premiums are empirically warranted.”
After reviewing “value for money” reports from Vancouver and other Canadian P3s, Siemiatycki concluded that P3s “are an expensive way of delivering infrastructure.” Then again, cost overruns often made traditional projects expensive, too.
TransLink did accept the risk of ridership: if the Canada Line didn’t draw sufficient patronage, it would have to make up payments for the difference. But because of the line’s success, drawing well over 100,ooo passengers per day, that turned out to be a safe bet.
All the more interesting, then, to see how little debate there is over the risk assumed by such motordom projects as the Golden Ears, Port Mann and now the Massey bridges. Even as more data comes in on the drop in driving and the failure of tolled projects to meet their projections (see, again, Clem 7, etc.), the multi-billion dollar projects still keep rolling out.
So here we are: unquestioned success with transit, failure with motordom. And yet, we will be putting transit at risk with the referendum and, if it fails, plowing ahead with more road-and-bridge projects.
Here’s an easy prediction Even if the referendum includes the Pattullo Bridge in its list of projects to be funded – and the initiative is defeated – the bridge will still go ahead.
Regardless of risk, it’s always Motordom by Default.
Here’s the post in the Sightline Daily that more fully explains Clark Williams-Derry analysis of forecast traffic on the Port Mann Bridge:
I’m old enough to remember the episode of The Simpsons when Homer Simpson, after 22 minutes of serial idiocy, wraps up the show by proudly declaring: “Marge, my friend, I haven’t learned a thing.”
Well, it seems that BC’s transportation officials are now treating The Simpsons as an instruction manual.
As I pointed out a few months back, British Columbia’s transportation planners have long been nursing a delusion that traffic across the Port Mann bridge will magically start to soar any day now … even though actual travel across the span has trended downward for the better part of a decade.
And they’ve apparently done it again:
There are 5,000 to 6,000 fewer cars a day on the bridge, compared to traffic prior to the toll being introduced a year ago, said Todd Stone…”But we expect is that those numbers will bounce back as people really sort it out, and determine: how much is their time worth?”
Revenue forecasts for the next three years are being adjusted to 20 per cent lower than first anticipated: to $144 million for fiscal 2014, $159 million for 2015 and $174 million for 2016.
So revenue is down by 20 percent … but still projected to rise rapidly in the next few years!
Just to be clear, the light blue dotted line may not be perfectly accurate. I haven’t accounted for changes in the mix of motorcycles and heavy trucks, or any shifts in enforcement or other toll revenue. Nor do I know what inflation rate the province is expecting. (I plugged in 2 percent into my estimates.)
Still, I bet that the blue line is pretty close. And if it is, it reveals something truly remarkable: rather than adjusting their their forecasts to match reality, BC’s transportation officials doubled down on projections that have repeatedly been proven wrong.
Marge, they haven’t learned a thing.
What do the revised Port Mann revenue forecasts mean for traffic? Clark Williams-Derry at the Sightline Institute compares past and current projections:
The province is still forecasting that Port Mann traffic will start soaring any day now.
Traffic is assumed to grow in step with reported revenue projections, after adjusting for inflation in toll rates.
Possible sources of error:
- Inflation: Tolls are supposed to rise with inflation, capped at 2.5%. But I don’t know what inflation forecast they used. I assumed 2%.
- Other revenue: It may not account for all revenue sources (e.g., enforcement, pay-by-camera charges)
- Limited data for recent trends: I estimated 2013 and 2014 Port Mann traffic from January data only
Less than a month ago, PT was wondering whether the Port Mann would be joining the growing list of toll roads, bridges and tunnels that are failing (sometimes dramatically) to meet their projections – and hence the financial premise on which they were constructed (and in Port Mann’s case, overbuilt).
It’s not looking good.
The new Port Mann Bridge is expected to see a 20-per-cent shortfall in anticipated revenues in each of the next three years as drivers increasingly flee to the Pattullo Bridge to avoid the $3 toll. …
That means 6,000 fewer cars per day are using the Port Mann Bridge compared with the traffic before an initial $1.50 toll was introduced in December 2012. …
The lower traffic estimates for the Port Mann have prompted Ti Corp. to revise its revenue estimates for the next three years to $144 million for 2014, $159 million in 2015 and $174 million in 2016 — about 20 per cent less than previously anticipated.
The spin machine shifted into gear:
The provincial government and TI Corp. on Friday downplayed the trends on the Port Mann as temporary, saying they had expected traffic numbers to drop on the bridge once the full toll was implemented on Jan. 1.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone … noted that when Florida and Texas increased tolls in 2012 and 2013, the diversion ranged between three and seven per cent as drivers immediately tried alternate routes. Within three months, though, traffic had returned to pre-increase levels.
The obvious question is: If you thought that was going to happen, why didn’t you include it in your projections?
The Minister blames … better transit.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone blamed high gas prices, improved public transit and more people working from home as affecting traffic on the route, but insists TI Corp. is still on track to pay off the project ahead of the 2050 schedule.
That’s where the alarm bell should go off. How can this be? A 20 percent decline – but everything is still on track to pay for the bridge? Most likely, they’re assuming traffic will be rebound to meet their projections. Indeed, the Minister said as much:
“There is no question that on the Port Mann Bridge, the overall traffic volumes are down somewhat year over year,” Stone said in Vancouver on Friday. “But what we expect is that those numbers will bounce back as people really sort it out, and determine how much is their time worth?”
There’s another scenario, based more on reality than expectation:
… that hasn’t appeared to have happened with the Golden Ears Bridge, which is only now starting to see the same levels of traffic that it received in its first month — when it was free to use. That bridge, also owned by TransLink, is costing the transportation authority $40 million annually because the traffic numbers are not what were originally anticipated.
Meanwhile, the future of transportation infrastructure that has consistently exceeded expectations for demand, and been consistently underbuilt to meet it – notably the Canada Line – is being put up for a risky vote, while the Motordom machine continues to rev up. The demand for bigger bridges is as strong as ever:
(Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts) said regardless of the traffic patterns, TransLink should be moving ahead with a new Pattullo crossing. The project has long been on TransLink’s list of priorities, but Surrey and New Westminster have struggled to agree on what to do — Surrey wants a new six-lane crossing, while New Westminster would prefer to see the bridge rehabilitated and a new crossing built between Surrey and Coquitlam.
You can bet the commitment to a 10-lane Massey Crossing remains in place. Not for a moment, I’d bet, would the government entertain the idea of placing a toll on the existing tunnel and using the revenues to boost transit, both reducing congestion and offering an alternative, while saving $2 to $3 billion for another overbuilt bridge.
They have learned nothing.
Carlito Pablo’s report in the Georgia Straight:
New bridge ordered as Massey Tunnel traffic drops sharply
In 2008, daily vehicle traffic in the George Massey Tunnel was down 7.5 percent compared to 2004. It’s a figure that came out in a regional survey by TransLink. It’s also a number that transportation and land-use expert Gordon Price cited last year on his blog when the future of the tunnel was still being discussed. …
According to the former Vancouver city councillor, these are important premises in looking at the provincial government’s bid to build a new bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel. The decision was made without any commitment to new investments in public transit in the Lower Mainland. …
Price pointed out that roads, bridges, and tunnels are essential parts of a transportation network that also includes transit. “You don’t fund them separately. You fund them together as part of a larger strategy,” he said. …
Premier Christy Clark has insisted that any new funding for transit in the Lower Mainland must be approved by voters in a referendum, a requirement not imposed on projects like the George Massey Tunnel’s bridge replacement.
Mayor Lois Jackson of Delta was also on CBC Radio 1 today, supporting the construction of the bridge, and making a few other points:
- The tunnel is a provincial structure, not a regional one, and therefore a new bridge should not be subject to a local referendum or included in the one on TransLink funding.
- The bridge should not be tolled unless other bridges in the region are too.
But wouldn’t that mean, if all the bridges were tolled – including the ones owned and managed by TransLink, like the Pattullo – that regional users would effectively be paying for a provincial asset, namely the Massey?
The mayor believes Massey would only need to have a toll priced under a Loonie if bridges like the Oak, Knight and Pattullo were also charged the same. So unlike the Port Mann, tolls on the Massey would not cover costs, the difference being made up by charges on those bridges (or a regional road-pricing system) that disproportionately hit Metro taxpayers, who would also be paying provincial taxes to cover highway infrastructure elsewhere in the region – and throughout the province.
Wouldn’t it be reasonable then to include Massey as part of the referendum package, along with transit, that Metro citizens would have a chance to vote on? Why some without the others?
Best of all, it would address the issue I lay out in the quote below. Bridges (likely Massey and the Pattullo) and transit (to reduce vehicle demand on the bridges) would be part of the same package, requiring the planners at both provincial and regional levels to consider how more transit could affect the scale of the new bridge. If, after all, we could save considerable dollars or have lower tolls with a smaller bridge, while at the same addressing road congestion and providing better transit service, why wouldn’t we? To do otherwise – to build a bigger bridge than we actually need – is surely a form of government waste as significant as any other.
Wouldn’t the Mayor of Delta agree?
With a new round of public consultations on alternatives to the Pattullo happening through June 28, taking a broader look at the region’s transportation issues is an idea that Gordon Price, director of SFU’s City Program, wants to promote.
For Price, a former Vancouver councillor and a member of the first board of the regional transportation body TransLink, there are important policy questions that need to be settled first.
The first is about road tolls. During the campaign for the May 14 election, B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark announced as part of her platform that Metro Vancouver residents would vote in a referendum next year on new funding sources for public transportation.
[Watch carefully: Will a new revenue source or tolls, currently against provincial policy, for a Pattullo Bridge replacement be put up for a vote?]
According to the SFU academic, current revenue streams for TransLink cannot pay for a new bridge. “You don’t get anything in transportation for half a billion dollars,” Price said in a phone interview with the Straight. “You got to get a nice, big, round number: one, one-and-a-half billion [dollars]. And that’s certainly what this bridge is going into.”
Then there’s the matter of changing patterns in car use. Price noted that there’s been a dramatic decline in what’s called vehicle miles travelled in the U.S. as well as in parts of Canada, particularly in Vancouver, where there are good transit alternatives.
[For instance, Americans drive about half as many miles as would have been projected in the late 1980s, based on the fast-growing trend line at that time. Details here.]
“We’re down to 1965 levels of traffic coming in and out of Vancouver,” Price pointed out. “Now that’s not an analogy for the Pattullo. But given that we’ve got a lot of new infrastructure coming on-stream, that’s going to have an impact on traffic patterns. We are seeing some changes certainly in young people’s attitudes towards driving.”
[What, in other words, will the impact of the Port Mann Bridge and still-to-be-completed South Fraser Perimeter Road? Why would we do another Granville Bridge: an overbuilt eight laner that can never utilitize its design capacity.]
Turns out that TransLink provides weekly updates on the Pattullo Bridge traffic counts – with some attractive charts if you’re into that kind of thing:
And if you are, there’s plenty more where that come from – here.
Upshot: There’s lots of variation in the counts, but overall, traffic seems to be up 5 to 7 percent post Port Mann Bridge opening.
That’s probably a small but perceptible change to drivers, given that the use of bridge is maxxed out at rush hours. But not high enough to suggest the leakage will have a negative impact on the expected numbers for Port Mann – unless there’s been a drop-off of traffic crossing the Fraser.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the Pattullo Bridge. (The New Westminster News Leader tells the story here.)
But its days are likely numbered. TransLink staff has approval from its board (and another $7 million for preliminary work) to proceed with design for a six-lane replacement, roughly where the existing bridge is now. (Though there are rumours the particulars may change as a result of negotiations with New Westminster.)
Nonetheless, it’s an interesting reflection of priorities when compared with the stated policies of the agency – and the actual demands in the region – for cycling infrastructure, as illustrated here:
UPDATE: Chart revised.
 TransLink 2008 Screenline counts
 TransLink 2008 Trip Diary
 TransLink 2011 Trip Diary
 TransLink 2013 Base Plan
From 2011-2013, the cycling program has been cut in half, back to 2004 levels – divesting the cycling program of a total of $9 million over three years. That’s a cut of 50 percent in order to save TransLink 0.2 percent of its total budget – a drop in the bucket for overall transportation funding but a massive blow to cycling in the region.
Add in cost-sharing with municipalities and the province, it could be a potential loss of $18 million towards cycling infrastructure investment in Metro Vancouver over three years.
Of TransLink’s six stated goals in Transport 2040, the cycling budget supports all of them. The Pattullo Bridge only supports one: efficient goods movement (and even that’s debatable).
One can make the case that the best outcome for the Pattullo might be a new four-lane bridge (same auto capacity as we have now) with excellent, well-designed ped and bike facilities. It’s actually more of a critical link for cycling than it is for cars: For a car to divert to the Alex Fraser or Port Mann is not that big of a deal and it would actually probably induce them to switch to SkyTrain, but for a ped or cyclist to divert that far is a big inconvenience.
The danger is that even with a new six-lane bridge, we might end up with substandard pedestrian and bike facilities. When budgets get crunched, the ped & bike facilities always seem to be the first to go. An upgrade of the existing bridge, though, would likely leave it with existing unsafe conditions for peds and bikes.
But when it comes to the design of a new bridge (or whether to replace it at all), it is cycling that provides one of the best arguments for renewal. Ironic, eh?
With more bikes than people, and a 43 percent bicycle commuting mode share, Amsterdam is certainly the envy of global cities (such as London, Paris, Barcelona, and New York) that are trying to expand their bicycling infrastructure. With the recent announcement of $150 million of investment in upgrading bike routes and enhancing bicycle storage, those cities chasing Amsterdam are going to be left in the dust, reports Christopher F. Schuetze.
Further to the discussion of congestion and transportation choice, Surrey is trying to take a visionary step by promoting the use of surface light-rail down some of its major arterials – notably 104th Avenue, where the density is already appropriately zoned for transit-oriented development (3.5 FSR – similar to Concord Pacific Place).
But of course, there’s no hope of this proposal proceeding so long as TransLink remains neutered. The fate of 104 is more likely to be shaped by vehicle traffic trying to avoid the toll on the Port Mann by heading over to the Pattullo Bridge.
Still, it’s a remarkable vision, more typically something proposed for denser, pre-Motordom city centres – like Sydney:
Light rail will unlock Sydney’s potential and strengthen George Street as a transport corridor. Modern trams will reliably and comfortably move thousands of people every hour – without the noise and delays.
Running every two minutes, trams will make connections to buses and CityRail trains fast and hassle-free. Wide footpaths and car-free blocks will make walking faster, safer and easier, and provide new opportunities to enjoy Sydney’s climate by dining outside.
What’s fun about the video above is this – a 1906 version of streetcar Sydney – that serves as the predecessor to today’s vision:
Thanks to Howard Levine.
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. •
My Business in Vancouver column – Part 1:
TransLink has no more money. Gas-tax revenue is down, there’s no new source of funding from the province, no more property tax from the municipalities and not even approval for an anticipated fare increase.
Indeed, one wonders whether Martin Crilly, the TransLink Commissioner, realized he was giving cover to all the authority’s critics when he turned down the fare increase and sealed TransLink’s fate: it was now “officially” inefficient and would have to find any new money internally.
That took any expansion plans for already-promised transit off the table.
So why is TransLink moving forward on planning for a new Pattullo Bridge that will be one of the widest structures in Western Canada?
Before the Golden Ears Bridge opened, there were nine lanes across the river. When the new Port Mann Bridge opens, there will be 19 lanes. With a new six-lane Pattullo, that would be 25 lanes – all for cars and trucks.
As experience with Golden Ears has shown, tolls might even reduce demand below conservative projections – this at a time when vehicle use by the younger generation is dropping, energy prices are volatile and every regional and local plan has sustainability as a priority.
The message couldn’t be clearer: transit is not to be taken seriously, especially south of the Fraser. Suburban growth will be mainly car-dependent sprawl. Regardless of our visions and plans – and even the promises (like express buses on a widened Highway 1) – the Fraser Valley will be built out like a typical American urban region: freeways, arterials and parking lots.
The Lower Mainland will consist of two overlapping and conflicting urban environments: car dependence where growth is greatest, and then places like Vancouver and New Westminster, where the freeways stop.
Part 2 tomorrow: Questions for TransLink on the Pattullo Bridge, and for Surrey.
Chris Bryan, editor of the New Westminster NewsLeader, tweets:
His column is here, with this proposal:
… what I propose is a compromise.
Let’s keep the existing bridge, but rehabilitate it. Make the lanes wider and safer, as was done in 2001 with the Lions Gate Bridge. Add ample cycling and pedestrian sidewalks. And paint it, too. Make it look pretty.
TransLink estimates this would cost about $200 million.
That’s about $800 million less than the cost to build an entirely new bridge.
And now, I propose we immediately gift that $800 million to Surrey, to give it what it desperately needs. Better transit. Fast track light rail between Surrey City Centre and Guildford, get the rapidbus plans for King George Highway and over the new Port Mann back on the table.
With a new Port Mann Bridge doubling capacity in the coming months, my guess is that if we put our new money into transit south of the Fraser, we’ll soon find ourselves in a situation where everyone wins.
Your New West Neighbour
Don’t know about Mayor Watts, but I find it inconceivable that TransLink could proceed with (or Surrey support) plans for an expanded Pattullo but not be out vigorously fighting for expanded transit.
“… at his best” – really? Those aren’t my words, so you can be the judge.
My thanks to Daniel and Keith and 24 Hours for putting on the forum where I had a chance to speak. I feel more strongly than ever that the decision on the Pattullo Bridge will be critical for the future of this region. For all the reasons mentioned below.
Gordon Price, former TransLink board member and present Director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University discusses the TransLink’s proposal for a 6-lane replacement for the Pattullo Bridge.
His conclusion, it is a really bad idea at a time when TransLink can’t even afford the transit service to Surrey already promised, never mind the rapid transit lines envisioned for King George Boulevard and the Fraser Highway.
The forum was held in the La Perla Ballroom New Westminster’s River Market, with views across the Fraser River to Surrey’s historic Bridgeview neighbourhood. As you can see on the video, it was sponsored by the 24 Hours transit newspaper.
UPDATE from CKNW:
As Translink and the City of New Westminster battle over replacing the Pattullo Bridge, the Province is prepared to play peacemaker.
Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom concedes New West has a point over traffic clogged roads with a new 6-lane span, “Part of the discussion I had with them were based on that. What we could do to actually bring the parties to the table to make sure. Because you are right, bringing a six lane bridge into gridlock on one side of it doesn’t make a great deal of sense. So, is there work that has to be done there? I believe there is but that is through discussions that have yet to take place.”
Lekstrom says he is willing to play a role to bring both the City and Translink to the table for frank discussions on the Pattullo proposal. He adds as part of Metro Vancouver, New Westminster must face up to the traffic movement within the region.
It was touted as a chance to explore what could be done with the old Pattullo Bridge once a new bridge was completed.
The event, held Wednesday night at New Westminster’s River Market, was organized by local residents Keith Mackenzie and Daniel Fontaine, who hoped to discuss visionary ideas such as a bridge re-purposed for restaurants and cafés, a linear park, or even housing—judging by the preview posts on the event’s Facebook page.
Instead, the event was immediately gripped by what are perhaps the more pressing questions of how will the Pattullo be replaced, where, and should it be scrapped altogether.
TransLink wants to build a new, six-lane bridge near the old span’s current location by 2018. New Westminster residents have voiced strong concerns about the impact this larger bridge could have on livability, while the City of Surrey is clear that a six-lane bridge is needed.
At Wednesday’s event, Gordon Price, director of The City Program at SFU compared the current situation to the opening of the original, five-lane Port Mann Bridge in 1964, which paved the way for rapid development in the Fraser Valley. This bridge created communities that were car-dependent, he said.
“I’m not going to beat up on the car or the truck—they are absolutely indispensable,” said Price. “It’s the dependent part that is the problem.”
Price and fellow speaker Anthony Perl, an SFU professor, said the current discussion about the bridge should look to the future, and the changes in energy prices and people’s habits that are already underway. It would be unfair to criticize the decision makers in 1964 who decided to build the original Port Mann, Price said, but “are we going to lock the next generation into further car dependence, by not looking at other options?
“To do that today in 2012 is breathtaking.”