June 15, 2017

Richmond Mayor says Massey Bridge won't fix Congestion, Rethink Needed.

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The Mayor of Richmond Malcolm Brodie in the Richmond News counters the conjecture and misinformation emerging post-election on the potential rethink of the Massey Bridge proposal, now estimated to cost $12 Billion with carrying costs. As Dr. Kat Volk a former University of British Columbia planetary scientist mentioned this amount of money could fund several planetary missions such as Cassini instead of the vast majority of single-occupant motor vehicles using the Massey Tunnel.
While recognizing that the Massey Tunnel “bottleneck” impacts the economy by fettering the free flow of people and goods, Mayor Brodie notes “the current bridge proposal is simply the wrong project to effectively address the problem. Because the current plan contravenes the Regional Growth Strategy and affects the environment, the Metro Vancouver Regional District board almost unanimously opposes the proposed bridge.”
The Mayor also mentions former  provincial Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon who had wanted to ease congestion through strengthening and twinning  the  existing tunnel, while making investments in bus or rail mass transit. Developing a huge bridge at this location will shift congestion to the Oak Street Bridge, clog  adjacent Richmond streets near the highway, and negatively impact local farmland.
Currently, the proposal calls for a massive bridge three kilometres in length suspended from two towers, each of which is approximately the equivalent height of a 60 storey building. Bedrock in the area is estimated to be over 1,000 feet down.  The new tolled bridge may also move traffic elsewhere.  “From the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridge experience  expected tolls will divert much of the traffic to non-tolled already-congested alternatives such as the Alex Fraser Bridge.”
Mayor Brodie concludes :”We urgently need to solve the congestion issue that exists around the Massey Tunnel. Let’s reconsider this ill-conceived plan for a massive structure that compromises the environment at a cost to our grandchildren of billions of unnecessary dollars while it provides only a bandaid solution.”
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  1. It’s worth noting here that Richmond had no problem flouting the original metro strategy of not increasing the population greatly of their floodplain-based city. People in glass houses…

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  3. TransLink are now suggesting that the Canada Line in Richmond should be expanded down No 3 Road in Richmond, then over the new bridge to the BC Ferry Terminal in Tsawwassen.

      1. Trudeau called Gregor while he was in Montreal and asked him to pass on the message that there’s plenty of money for everyone and they do what they like with it. On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised $1.3 billion for Montreal’s planned regional light rail network, with the money coming as a grant from the government’s Investing in Canada infrastructure plan.

    1. That makes sense, but probably a lower priority than expanding CanadaLine first deeper into Richmond, Broadway subway/LRT all the way to UBC and better connection to the very congested and ever growing north shore and a spur into E-Van to re-vitalize that area. A northshore subway/LRT loop is missing in the 2040 plan.
      2040 plans needs a reboot in light of new realities of population preferences and funding availabilities.

    2. No need for Canada line to go to existing ferry terminal A one track line to a new passenger ferry terminal near Steveston could be built for a fraction of the cost.

  4. I am amazed the amount of common sense that is missing. first of all the fed money for the bridge is to create a revenue for another port. That is why the bridge instead of a tunnel. So they can dredge deeper.
    Any one that thinks this is about traffic alleviation would have to hear about plans for the oak street bridge and oak street.. See NASA solution and my advocacy for alternative to auto commuting. http://www.tramwaypods.ca 5 min video

    1. Ugh. Not these things again. You can’t lecture people about common sense and seriously promote this Jetsons cartoon fantasy. So damn silly and only ever half thought out. The Perpetual Motion Machine of transit geekdom.
      If you’re so freaked out by sharing space with other people, telecommute or bike. These personal mag-lev pods hold no capacity, route flexibility, or cost advantage over traditional light or heavy-rail technology. None.
      And they’d get pretty funky pretty quick. Within 8 minutes of being built half of these pods’ windows will be covered over with newspaper. You won’t want to know what goes on inside. This is what the real humans who ride these things will do.
      You’re far better off investing in a Compass Card. Or a comfortable pair of shoes.

      1. Did you read the promo and the bios? Reads like it was written by a four year old ESL child. No bank would lend these kids a nickel.

      2. Cheap to build above streets, quiet and fast. I would not rule it out. I think it makes good sense for example on top of Lionsgate bridge to N Shore as a subway there would be very disruptive and expensive. This could work there.

      3. The real purpose of tramwaypods / skytran is to disrupt discussion on non-automobile infrastructure. When a proven technology like light rail is being proposed they can distract people by saying “skytran pods are just around the corner so we should not waste money on old fashioned light rail”.
        Then when everyone is distracted by that they can build more highways and sell more cars.

        1. Seriously ? I think it is an honest attempt to build mass transit WITHOUT buses, electrically (i,e. green) QUIET and without the very costly subway or LRT build costs and disruption.
          Like an AV on a track. Mag levitation exists as well as the technology .. and far FAR lower upfront costs. Doable on top of existing through streets like Broadway, Marine Drive, Granville etc ..
          I think it has SERIOUS potential if they can get the technology to work. Can they ?

    2. The irrelevance of the pods aside, there was no federal money allocated for the $12 billion (with financing and cost overruns factored in) Massey Bridge. Christy begged, but Justin promised the majority of money for transit improvements.
      Priorities.

      1. Removing congestion is a priority for many. More buses and bike lanes just won’t cut it for Massey expansion. Another tunnel paid would do, of course. It was a $3-4B bridge, not $12B, btw.
        Highway expansion makes sense in certain places, as we have seen in Montreal with Champlain bridge replacement or Hwy 1 from Kamloops to AB border. Massey is such a place, too.

      2. Thanks Thomas for establishing the true on the real cost estimate of the bridge…
        I, like many, am questioning the relevance of such a bridge (and never bought the port argument which I believe was pure fantasy brought by the bridge opponents), but I feel that many opponents to the bridge just discredit themselves by bringing specious argument.
        If people want to factor the financing operating cost, cost overrun… for the Bridge, then please do it for all projects, including transit project like the Broadway subway…
        Beside it, yes more buses, or rather effective bus only lane can help (it is not me saying that, it is the own province study).

        1. Sure. Let’s calculate the financing costs of all major transit projects, first with, then without, P3s where amortization over 30+ years will double or triple the construction cost, just like a residential mortgage. Let’s compare financing by public RFPs and tenders versus a private consortium that will design, build and operate the asset for a generation, every month with built-in profit margins and additional fees charged for adding service frequency during peak periods. Let’s compare the financing at the AAA government credit rating to the higher ratings for the private sector over the full term.
          Now, let’s discuss operating costs. That’s where the financing costs are charged along with all other post-construction elements. A big bridge with tolls covers only the construction cost principle, not the interest on the financing. If it did cover financing costs, then the tolls would e a lot higher and would be in place for at least three decades. And that’s only if the politicians charge tolls in the fist place, and keep them active. Note that Treo is falling short on the Port Mann for whatever reason and will require an additional public subsidy, basically a debt on a debt.
          Transit in Metro Vancouver recovers somewhere between 42-50% of its operating costs on average through the farebox, depending on the source. The distinguishing thing here is that some modes do nor recover much of their operating costs at all (e.g. suburban bus feeder routes) whereas straight-line rail in dense areas with ideal connectivity make a profit (e.g. the Expo Line @ 245,000 trips a day and growing). Geometry, connectivity, the Network Effect and increasing density in jobs, employment and office space are lining up to make the Broadway Corridor a rail transit success story. Even with a financing agreement to amortize the debt over 35 years, the potential to profit through fares from high ridership will likely allow TransLink to pay off the debt early and lop billions off the interest. With a subway engineered for a 100-year lifespan, the finance department may enjoy 70+ years of profit, especially if the estimate of 320,000 trips a day after 10 years turns out to be low.
          Then of course there are the positive externals with transit, such as better health, fewer car crashes and the decrease in attendant emergency services, hospital and litigation costs, a more efficient city with lower per capita energy consumption, more land freed up from roads, lower emissions, things that make long-term financing less risky and costly for a decent transit system. This is why a transit system should never be shortchanged.
          Let’s do the math Voony.

        2. What is the “ideal” city ? Medium density, high density and low density – in what % and laid out how ?
          We are where we are today and with ALR interspersed with cities a more comprehensive MetroVan design is in order, re-aligning some ALR areas, creating more lands in the flood plains of the Fraser River, creating far more expensive toll roads, more rapid transit AND aligning civil servants operated services costs to private sector norms by reducing salaries to private sector levels. All those issues are related but we treat them as if they are not.
          Many actually like to drive, and many are willing to pay if the speed was adequate. We pay either in time, or in money. Toll roads could be far FAR more expensive. What would folks in N-Van or W-Van be willing to pay if there never was a delay on Lionsgate bridge ? $5 ? $10 ? $25 per crossing ?

        3. Good for you, Voony. Now, where’s your synopsis for those of us who don’t have the time to interpret your rather cloudy spreadsheets? I can read and interpret annual TransLink and BC Ferries reports a lot easier.
          At least you separated capital costs from operating costs in the numbers, which you didn’t seem to do in your comment on the total cost of the bridge being equivalent to the publicly disseminated ministry figure of $3.5B for capital construction. I have been managing projects for 30 years and know only too well that the financing interest jacks the total cost by 2-3 times, depending on the interest rates. Add an additional 35% to the capital construction estimate if there is a construction trades labour and materials shortage. I also know that politicians love to cite the lowest estimated figures, and point fingers to everyone but themselves when the inevitable post-tender CCOs start to pop up during construction. On top of everything, they will bury the billions in debt-servicing costs in crown corporation budgets and lie about it while “balancing” the annual budget.
          And what do you understand about the geotechnical issues at this site? And risk assessment which will no doubt peg this issue with a red flag?

  5. Thomas Beyer does mention an important point. The ALR.
    As Alex says, the losses on transit are primarily the suburban bus feeder routes – those beyond the ALR.
    The ALR is glorious and bucolic. It reminds us of country life, plants, flowers and docile animals frolicking in the meadows – cranberries, blueberries and lots of pumpkins.
    It is also a price we are prepared to pay, necessitating highways and bridges so people can access the city.

    1. A far higher price would be to sacrifice the ALR for cheaper, sprawling subdivisions, which are in fact subsidized, do not account for their external effects, and that are overly-reliant on cars and unaffordable mega-freeways.
      Of course that will be only temporary until the flatlands are completely consumed in a couple of decades by one of the most inefficient land uses ever devised. Maybe that’s OK in some people’s minds because the ultimate costs of our poor planning and imported food (itself unreliable in the long run) doesn’t matter to them today, but will be paid by future generations. Bucolic landscapes have nothing to do with it.
      ‘Planning’ must be the operative word in every aspect of the economy this century. We are paying too much to even begin to correct the mistakes of last century, and the act of repeating those mistakes has to end simply because they will bankrupt our society, unless several succeeding generations produce more taxpayers to replace the massive economic benefits generated by Boomers.
      Leave the ALR alone. Build compact, mixed-use communities designed for transit on the rises and link them together with hopefully a decent, fully networked rail system. That is the most honourable way to approach urbanism today.

      1. Perhaps we need to revise immigration policies in lieu of land pressures in certain areas ?
        Planning for ALR layout or levels of immigration is not part of “planning” ?
        Some things are NOT man made, such as rivers, mountains or shape of land. A lot of things can be planned, including immigration levels or how ALR is laid out. the suggestion “leave ALR” alone suggests an unwillingness to take a holistic view of planning. Why is that ?
        Why not create more land in the Fraser River delta, revise immigration levels or re-direct them, or optimize ALR efficiencies across the Lower Mainland ?

        1. There’s something to be said for creating new land. After all, the idols of many here, the Darling Dutch, industriously drained many a marsh and wildlife habitat to create their bike friendly little nation.

  6. Fine. Keep the ALR. Maybe someone will one day convince Translink to propose a train to the north shore and to the fast growing southern suburbs. A line going through New Westminster then east to Langley is just one. Another due south is needed too.
    Too bad that Bombardier closed their manufacturing facility in Burnaby.
    deleted as per editorial policy

    1. You appear to be conflating interprovincial highways with urban mass transit. The last person to do that here (even using the same quote about Horgan promising to widen the TransCanada) went by the name of Eric. I think I recall Eric lamenting Bombardier closing their plant in Burnaby as well.

  7. It is unfortunate that some posters don’t understand the posting rules, and post about topics unrelated to the articles they are responding to. While twinning the Trans Canada highway to Alberta is supported by many, and can help improve safety, it has nothing to do with the Massey Tunnel replacement.

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