July 17, 2017

Full Page Advertisement to "Get The Facts" on the New Massey Bridge

The game of “Whack a Mole” got a little more complex in Delta where the Corporation decided to take out a whole page ad in the front section of the Vancouver Sun to get across their various points. Delta is insisting that no matter what the rest of Metro Vancouver or the Mayor’s Council says, Delta needs their ten lane overbuilt multi-billion dollar bridge to serve their 100,000 population, and the region better get on board.
With the underwhelming and sufficiently  slanted  title of  “Politics and Misinformation Must Not Stop Bridge Construction” Delta offers “the facts” on the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project. With no footnotes to direct references, we are told “Twinning the Tunnel is NOT AN OPTION!”  “THE EXISTING TUNNEL CANNOT BE SUFFICIENTLY UPGRADED!” And my personal favourite “A REPLACEMENT TUNNEL IS MORE EXPENSIVE!”. Delta suggests that a replacement  tunnel would be $4.3 billion dollars versus $3.5 billion dollars for that ten lane bridge. Imagine-in Delta’s estimates, we are only looking at financial costs, not the ecological savings of developing a tunnel with a more sound ecological footprint that does not suck up hectares of the most arable lane in Canada.
There is more hype in the rest of the ad  with no direct referencing but you get the point. There are eleven factoids and Delta is letting us know “Public safety is at risk and the solution is known-the new bridge is necessary, supported by facts and vital for the economy of the region and the province”.
There’s a website you are encouraged to go to for vital information on this bridge-www.WeNeedaBridge.ca which surprise surprise, just goes straight to the Corporation of Delta’s website.
One of the Province’s most trusted urbanists told me that he had reviewed the statistics for Delta and realized that they  had a very heavy reliance on industrialization and the Port. That comes out in the “oops” statistic where Delta tells us that “twelve per cent of the traffic moving through the tunnel are trucks”, and that is “MORE THAN 3X HIGHER THAN OTHER BRIDGES IN THE REGION”. This is not about  accessibility for the region-this is for the Corporation of Delta to continue industrializing the Fraser River and expanding truck shipping from Deltaport.
But Delta has answered all the questions to their satisfaction, with  their taxpayers footing the bill for their front newspaper section largesse. Let’s hope that non-biased crossing review is coming soon, and doesn’t require full-page newspaper ads.

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  1. I certainly agree with including all costs, including ecological ones, when comparing costs. However, a massive tunnel with all the capacity of a bridge is a straw man, especially since practically no informed person or group is proposing it. In fact, it is not even possible within the Hwy 99 Corridor, even though the Massey part of the corridor is wide; the crossing would have to be shut down for many months. An example of the kinds of bridge alternative that informed Richmond people are putting forward is expressed in the one-page option-rationale sheet that I provided to the City of Richmond on behalf of the Garden City Conservation Society last week.

  2. The statistical claim that jumped out at me in the advertisement was for commercial truck traffic.
    From the advertisement:
    “During peak hour traffic, commercial trucks make up 12% of the traffic moving through the tunnel”
    That doesn’t sound like what the Massey Tunnel Replacement Project Team published in Dec 2015.
    From the project definition report:
    “Percentage of peak-hour traffic that is trucks 5%”
    Further info is available in the Nov 2015 Traffic Data Forecast for the crossing, also available on the Engage BC project site:
    “Between 2004 and 2015, the vehicle split for the Massey Tunnel is about 92% for cars and 8% for trucks, whereas for Alex Fraser Bridge it is 91% for cars and 9% for trucks. Overall traffic growth on the Massey Tunnel and the Alex Fraser Bridge is determined by car traffic.”
    The 8% is all hours, the 5% is peak hours. Neither aligns with the 12% claim for commercial trucks (a subset of all trucks) during peak hours, as claimed by Delta.
    If the straightforward numbers are wrong, how can one trust the rest of the advertisement? Most telling is that no sources were included in the advertisement, so it appears that Delta is counting on readers not looking it up for themselves.

    1. “it appears that Delta is counting on readers not looking it up for themselves”
      Facts and reasoning don’t determine the answer. The question does. Any answer implicitly accepts its hidden assumptions. To answer the question “Bridge or tunnel” is to accept that we will build one of them. The question alone makes the crossing a priority.
      (The question, “should we build a Massey bridge” is also bad. The answer is of course: the same as “should we built Skytrain to the North Shore,” or “do you want a pony.”)
      The question I think we should be asking is, “What is the most productive transportation investment we can make?” If Massey is high on the list then fine. But if it’s not (given our other needs I can’t imagine it would be), then it shouldn’t even be a topic of discussion.
      The Liberals knew how to frame the debate about transportation. They didn’t want to build transit – so they didn’t talk about it. They talked about the bridge. That was their answer to transit.
      The more we talk about the bridge, the more real it becomes, and the less we talk about transit. The more critics say No to the bridge, the more they look like can’t do pessimists. They avoid this by arguing for a tunnel, and surrender the key issue.
      Ideally, we would reframe the debate. We would be talking about trains and buses. Then if Delta wanted its bridge, it would first have to argue against expanded transit.

  3. Geoff, I agree with you in principle, so I went to your blog and found your “Transit communication ladder” post (http://www.geof.net/blog/2017/06/05/transit-communication-ladder). It fills out your comment nicely.
    In keeping with your eschewing of the bridge/tunnel framing, Richmond is looking at the rationales for “Massey Crossing options.”
    While the idea of starting with a pristine slate is ideal, I suggest that in the current reality it is better to start by recognizing the givens and near-givens that pretty-much limit the options. That is conducive to the fast progress that is desperately wanted—common ground for almost everyone.
    For instance, it is a near-given that there must be at least the chosen option must add at least a couple of lanes. That is (a) necessary for political reasons and (b) a significant factor in enabling the overdue seismic upgrading and the near-due thorough refurbishing to get done quickly and safely.

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