June 14, 2017

Back to Deltaport's Dirty Coal,Terminal 2, and the Green Tubes

Richmond’s Garden City Conservation outline two initiatives impacting the vital Fraser River estuary which passes through Richmond and Delta.  A citizens’ group has partnered with Ecojustice and the municipalities of Surrey and New Westminster  to stop thermal coal from being shipped.  Thermal coal is dirty coal in two ways-it is shipped in open box cars that are sprayed, but still leave a residue on properties and housing. The end use of thermal coal is also for heating, a source of air pollution, and mining it has detrimental impacts on the environment.
Price Tags has reported on Port Metro Vancouver’s proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 which will allow even bigger ships to be loaded on an artificial island at the mouth of the Fraser. This manmade island will take out vital habitat for the western sandpiper that relies on a certain biofilm for most of its migratory  feeding at this location. Perhaps as a way to smooth federal approval of Roberts Bank Terminal 2, the Port is now saying that they are going to do less dredging in the Fraser River ship channel, stating that it is too cost prohibitive. But as Garden City Conservation observes “If the port doesn’t have to include the environmental impact of dredging as a “cumulative effect” of projects in the estuary, it has a better chance of getting Terminal 2  approved. After that assessment, the port could consider deeper dredging again.”
While discussing the Fraser River estuary Garden City Conservation also brings up the Massey Tunnel discussion, suggesting that new “green tubes” to supplement the four lane “legacy tube” be placed further east upriver potentially connecting with Richmond’s Nelson Road. This location leads towards Highway 91 and has minimal impact on the most arable soils in Canada. These new “green tubes” can divert traffic from the “legacy tubes” during renovations. There is a massive volume of materials that need to be gone through from the Massey Bridge project, and it is hoped that a Provincial environmental impact assessment will be properly conducted.

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    1. It’s “Green Tube” because a two-lane supplementary tube to enable transit lanes is the ecologically best (greenest) way to proceed. The graphic shows the Green Tube at a distance from the Legacy Tube that lines up the new tube with existing service roads within the Highway 99 corridor at both ends of the tunnel, clear of the protective blanket of constrained rock that covers the tunnel (extending well beyond its width).
      For reasons of safety, congestion control, etc., the placement that lines up with 76 Street in Delta and Nelson Road in Richmond may perhaps be a better alternative for the Green Tube, in which case it would technically be a new tunnel.
      All this is in keeping with pre-Christy planning and even modest forms of early scenarios in the Massey Project (Scenarios 4 and 5). Furthermore, fast-tracking the Green Tube addition would enable it to temporarily take on traffic from the existing tunnel so that all the overdue and almost-due upgrades can be done fast, with closure of existing tubes (a pair at a time) to enable efficiency.

      1. The added alignment of a new bridge at Nelson and Boundary has the best payback as well and actually reduced vehicle km travelled.
        It was rejected to due farmland impacts, which I think is rather short sighted.

  2. A “Green Tube” at Nelson Road would link well with Tilbury industrial area on the SFPR.
    Nelson Road is also the alignment for a future bridge crossing the North Arm of the Fraser River connecting to Boundary Rd. in Burnaby.
    A new bridge on the Nelson Road alignment (and retention of the existing tunnel) was rejected in the Massey Bridge project studies as being too far out of the way to place the expanded capacity.
    But a new parallel Massey Tunnel plus a new Nelson Road tunnel could address the Hwy 99 corridor and distribute traffic loads more widely.

    1. That’s all essentially true. However, Richmond does not want a new bridge connecting to Boundary Road or even to Patterson/Willingdon. Furthermore bridge traffic heading north from it would run into congestion towards Kingsway.
      The focus needs to be on transporting more people, not more vehicles, between Delta and Vancouver. That is what Metro Vancouver and Richmond have been conveying, with Christy Clark and Lois Jackson choosing to keep thinking a different way.

      1. A Boundary Road route would take some pressure off Knight Street as a major truck route between the Port of Vancouver (Burrard Inlet sites) and the light industrial warehouses that have relocated to lower rent areas such as Annacis Island and (via SFPR) near DeltaPort and Boundary Bay.

        1. Indeed making Boundary road a tolled highway with a bridge connecting to the highway in Richmond would make a lot of sense, would ease traffic flow and increase safety by keeping trucks of the roads elsewhere.
          Right now all this N-S traffic flow is forced onto Knight, Oak or Granville.
          Tolled highways would ease traffic flow and generate the revenue needed to build them and/or expand existing highways. Many people, most I’d argue, would be willing to pay for road use if the congestion disappeared, incl. a Massey tunnel expansion.
          The current 2040 vision is not bold enough and assumes everyone loves buses and slow paced getting around which is just not true. A complete overhaul is required. Best example: a subway that stops at Arbutus, and none to the north shore.

  3. deleted as per editorial policy
    Metallurgical coal is exported en-masse, and makes up the vast majority leaving Vancouver. It’s well over 90% our coal throughput the last time I checked, and that ratio will only be growing. Thermal coal use is on the way out.
    Lots of things are working against thermal coal, for instance:
    -Most of the planned coal power plants in China have been shelved.
    -In the US, thermal coal is being undercut by Natural Gas.
    -Anywhere with a Carbon Tax, it’s the first energy source out due to cost.

  4. Creating more man made islands for ALL uses makes total sense in the Fraser Estuary as the Fraser dumps tons of silt annually and pushes the delta out annually. So it makes sense to use that silt and ever shallower ocean bay to make more land for industrial, residential, agricultural, retail or recreation purposes.
    -deleted as per editorial policy-