June 18, 2015

Climate Change Porn: The problem from a B.C. point-of-view

The problem with climate change from a B.C. point of view?  It’s not happening fast enough.  And we’re here to help.

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george-massey-tunnel

From CBC:

The new bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel between Richmond and Delta along B.C.’s Highway 99 might have 10 lanes …

“We’re basically doing the same height as the Alex Fraser [bridge], but we’re also factoring in a little bit of potential sea level change because of climate change. So that distance is about 57 metres,” says Pam Ryan, planning director of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.

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Isn’t that great: the bridge will be higher to factor in “a little bit of potential sea level change” – as well as to accommodate larger ships to handle LNG and coal from terminals up river.  The bridge, of course, primarily facilitates automobiles and trucks, and, regardless of the lesson of Port Mann, is excessively designed to accommodate the increased demand that results from land development to the south, a la Tsawwassen Commons, with the not-unreasonable expectation that residents there will vote against taxes to fund new transit.

What makes this especially pornographic is that the above story comes out on the same day as Laudato Si, the Pope’s encyclical to the world on care for our common home.  Sorry, Your Holiness, we have a different take on this.

We British Columbians, as carbon dealers to the world, use our wealth to build vehicle-dependent infrastructure to open up more land, some of it below sea level, for more development to sell even more carbon.

That’s our definition of encyclical.

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  1. The Pope will give his blessing to the New Massey Bridge. Less traffic idling and therefore less pollution and CO2 emissions. Ah-amen. The LNG on the beautiful ships cruising below the bridge will replace coal use in Asia and bring wealth to British Columbia. Less pollution and CO2 emissions for the planet too. Ah-amen. The New Massey Bridge will have dedicated bus lanes and a bike lane. Less pollution and just about no CO2 emissions. Ah-amen. The New Massey Bridge will reduce frustrations and delays and give us more quality time with our families. Altogether, cheap at any price. Amen!

    1. The ten-lane structure will last more than a century. The road approaches will last, if you are lucky, a half century, or as long as the soil bearing capacity can support their build-up to avoid inundation. The LNG will last oh, maybe 15 years due to the exceedingly high decline rates of fracking. Coal and cars will suffer the same fate as all finite fossil fuels rise again in price, then rocket down in the resulting recession, and repeat the cycle again and again in the 2020-30s.

      A dozen Tsawwassen Commons do not justify singing amen to an exemplary symbol of last century white elephant infrastructure that will stand tall and proud and alone in the hot Delta mud flats of 2080.

    1. Many vehicles exit at the recently expanded (2 lanes) Steveston exit. South Richmond and Steveston have grown in light-industry and general commercial, as well as residential and tourism.

      Next up is the big exit for Westminster Highway. Again, there’s a substantial volume of traffic that goes east to the light-industry parks and the tech centres, as well as a busy two lane flow that goes west into the centre of growing Richmond. This includes some traffic that heads to the hospital and others that go on to the south side and terminal of YVR and the BCIT campus.

      The bulk of the truck traffic takes the next exit and head east along the 91 towards New Westminster and all the industrial sectors of Burnaby, or on up Knight Street, into Vancouver and the Port. There is also a steady stream of smaller vehicles and lighter vans from Purolator, FedEx, UPS etc., that take Knight Street into western Burnaby and central Vancouver. It frequently flows better than Main Street, once the Knight Street Bridge bottleneck is passed.

      Whatever is left after all these vehicles have hived off heads on towards the traditional southern entrance to Vancouver but not before even more vehicles have exited at the busy Bridgeport exit for YVR and north Richmond.

      The bulk of the remaining traffic goes on towards Vancouver up Oak Street, although, even before that there is still a good chunk of traffic that goes east at the Marine Drive exit towards Cambie and Main Streets, as well as a large number that go west on the Marine Drive loop, towards Granville Street and further west towards UBC.

      Count it all up and there are at the least eight roads that will receive substantial traffic that has gone over the Massey Bridge, before any reach 70th. Avenue.

      As I’ve said before. To relieve the congestion at 70th and Oak, particularly on the southbound route, which is polluting and making this sector of Marpole unattractive, there needs to be a comprehensive underground system of new roadways that will link these traffic flows on to and over the Oak Street Bridge. Due to the geography of the river at this point, and taking into account on and off-ramps, we are probably looking at a new bridge or a substantial tunnel under the river at that location.

        1. There are many web cams along the 99. Do the research yourself, or drive the road in the morning and then again, any evening. It’s an easy lesson.

          1. Perception versus Reality. You’re no better then a Traffic engineer forecasting future growth for the Port Mann bridge. Perception versus Reality

      1. Eric the bridge is supposed to complete in 2022. Google plans to have a driverless car by 2020. Don’t you think we should factor that into our planning? A large technological disruption that will reduce vehicle volumes.

        1. That’s funny! I use Google a lot too.

          There are over 250 million registered cars in the United States alone. How fast is Google going to make theirs? With production these days at around 10 million a year, it’s going to take twenty five years for Google to make that many, as long as nobody else builds cars.

          Let’s say they capture 50% of the market on day one. It’s still going to take until 2070 for them to saturate the market.

          By that time the New Massey Bridge will be getting a bit small and old. Time for a new one then. Especially since Gregor and all the professors told us that more than a million more people will be here by 2040. By 2070 Vancouver will be a city of 8 million at the minimum. With sea level rise a new airport will have to be built on Burnaby Mountain too. Since Richmond will be all under water the smart money is all moving to Metrotown, as you’ve probably noticed.

          1. You believe that? Gregor told us that it’s carmagheddon tomorrow and the Mayors told us that congestion is getting worse than anywhere in the world! We must pay a Congestion Tax otherwise gridlock will stop all traffic moving anywhere!

            You believe that, don’t you?

        2. @Eric

          Of course I believe those traffic trends are decreasing. How else is it possible the Portman Bridge needs subsidies? My prediction is that Christy Clark will not toll the bridge because no toll value would pay for that huge white elephant of a bridge.

          1. Just wait until Langely, Surrey and Abbotsford starts to grow faster than today due to lower land prices and increasing traffic for a few decades [ but yes, a lane should be reserved / reversable for a train] .. I read somewhere or someone posted that that was indeed an option. Ditto with Massey Bridge perhaps.

      2. Eric, all your “analyses” can be easily kyboshed by something as simple as tolls, a $2 price at the pump and a quick look at the land use and zoning plans for all connected communities to gauge their willingness and physical capability to accept orders of magnitude more car-dependent sprawl..

        Commuters will flock to highway buses that move far more humans more efficiently using less road space and therein prove yet again that publicly-funded 10-lane monster bridges are unnecessary for transportation and are important only to politicians trying to impress their suburban base at the public’s expense.

        If you dredge up that old chestnut that $3, 500+ million and 10 lanes in taxpayer’s debt money is necessary for commercial truck traffic, then I’ve got 300 emails from planners and organizations like the Livable Regions Coalition who studied that issue on the Port Mann, one cutting federal environmental analysis on the same project, and several hundred km of rail line to sell you.

        1. The New Massey Bridge is needed even without any further residential development in Ladner, Delta, Tsawwassen, Surrey, Langley or White Rock. That sixty year old tunnel is past its due date.

          As David said:
          “At some point leaders need to lead. They need to consider the options, pick the best one and get it implemented. Government by public consensus doesn’t work.”

          The comprehensive underground roadway system I mentioned is just, for a start, needed at the north end of the Oak Street Bridge. The southbound traffic shouldn’t have to wait along east and west 70th and Oak Street and all filter through a three-way traffic light system. It’s a recipe for congestion and it ruins this part of Marpole, which is now growing fast.

          It is complicated and will probably need a new bridge. I’d say you’re looking at another 10-12 lanes if you must have separation for buses.

      3. Oh, and your “comprehensive network of underground roadways” …… at $500 million per km, just where do you propose to find the money, let alone prove this isn’t a comically ludicrous idea? These are not 6m diameter Canada Line tunnels.

  2. 10 lanes is the dumbest idea in a long time. The current 4 lanes is congested, but traffic counts have been going down….so 2 thoughts, first has been mentioned where does that traffic go if we build 10 lanes? Unlike Eric I do not think a significant amount of traffic is really drained off into Richmond….or rather a fair bit of traffic exits into Richmond but even more joins at Richmond….which brings us back to were does that traffic go….which brings us to his underground road network, I take back my comments about a 10 lane tunnel replacement being the dumbest thing I have heard in a long time. We have a new winner.

    The next point is this. Currently there are 4 lanes, all the non ALR land near the crossing has housing (yes there will be some densification….but…). Where is the demand for the other 6 lanes coming from? If you are concerned about congestion at the tunnel….toll it at rush hour….you will get the same result and save 1 billion dollars.

    1. I agree, 10 lanes is excessive. The only benefits of building more than 4 lanes for a replacement bridge would be to add a reserved bus lane in each direction (bringing the total to 6 lanes) and bike lanes, both of which are currently absent. Tolling/congestion charges are a more equitable and reliable funding source than the current gas tax, and are also a better TDM tool. I expect to see them used more widely across the region in future.

  3. We should demand that if after awhile it doesn’t fill up with motor traffic, that some of the lanes get repurposed for other types of transportation.

      1. Likely many more, but yes, people should be able to bike from anywhere in the Lower Mainland to anywhere else, including the ferry terminals, on protected infrastructure. All new bridges should, just as a matter of course, include wide cycling and walking lanes on them. The existing ones should have them added and widened.

  4. How many tens of millions is this bridge going to continue to cost us every single year once the tolling revenue doesn’t add up to the forecasted amount?

    1. Sure, build a two lane tunnel and a ten lane bike path under the sign “BC is closed to business”

      Canada is an export / import nation and almost all of the traffic flows through the 30+ MetroVan ports. Bikes nor subways will handle this expanding traffic.

      We might even build a bridge to V Island, and expand the port there, away from busy Vancouver. That woudl actually create some business opportunities for Victoria and region, as opposed to the 4 cash-sinks (senior, students, navy and provincial government) today !

      1. Actually Thomas, Victoria has a number of Tech firms doing business in the city. San Francisco tech companies have satellite offices in Victoria. United Airlines flies nonstop from Victoria to San Francisco. You make alot of assumptions and generalizations chief.

        1. Not directly, but indirectly by suggesting we have too many lanes for trucks or cars or vans. A growing region with likely 5M+ people by 2050 or 2060 will need more roads AND more bridges AND more tunnels AND more buses AND more bike lanes AND more subways AND more pedestrian zones, and in a dense city that implies a stacked transportation corridor in place like Broadway, Granville, Burrard, Oak, #5 road, Cambie, Knight etc. i.e. subway below and road above, or subway and car tunnel below and pedestrian zone/pathway above.

  5. @Thomas: “By 2050” (Google plans to have a driverless car).

    Look around. Their plans are not aiming for 2050.

    From Popular Science: “For the first time, in March, an autonomous car drove itself from San Francisco to New York City”. That’s March 2015.

    The article points out that “Thirty thousand people die every year on U.S. roads, and over a million are injured. Ninety-four percent of those crashes are caused by human error.”

    Once autonomous cars are available, insurance is going to be pretty expensive for non-autonomous cars. That will speed adoption.

    Full article here: (Who’s Responsible When a Self Driving Car Crashes?)

    http://www.popsci.com/whos-responsible-when-self-driving-car-crashes

    1. I do not question the technology. I question the legalities, union protests and all the regulations that have to be changed for widespread use before 2050. Nothing will explode onto the scene in a year or 5 .. even cell phones, invented in the 60’s and engineered in the 70’s took to the late 90’s to be used by a few, then only in the 2000’s were widespread and only in the 2010’s with smartphones at low prices took off .. 50 years after its invention .. ditto with driverless cars.

      It will first start with high end cars in a “hands-free mode” and that might indeed be on our roads by 2020’s .. and then maybe 10-20% of cars to start with .. then truly driverless in the 2030’s and full ramp up to start in the 2040’s .. with a meaningful impact on car volume by 2050 !