September 18, 2017

Massey Bridge & Surrey Environmental Awards?

In truly one of the most bizarre events south of the Fraser River, the  Mayor  of the Corporation of Delta was invited to speak to the Surrey Board of Trade as part of their 2017 Surrey Environment and Business Awards. Subject?  Why the business community must force the Provincial government build a ten lane overbuilt multi-billion dollar bridge which will industrialize the banks of the  Fraser River. No mention that most of Delta’s economy is based upon trucking and transshipment, with no diversity into more 21st century businesses. Delta needs the bridge to continue their industrial economic base which is all about motordom.
As quoted in the Delta Optimist “The impacts are not just felt in Delta, but in Surrey, White Rock, Langley, even out in the valley. The replacement of the tunnel with a new bridge will relieve on of the worst traffic highway bottlenecks in Canada and save businesses and commuters millions of dollars lost as a result of congestion, accidents and travel delays” the Mayor said.
To the Surrey business community that might not know that you cannot build a ten lane bridge to solve congestion, the Mayor had an enthusiastic audience. The Mayor also trotted out the  Angus Reid survey that showed that the business community and residents supported the bridge. Without comprehensive road widening and new bridges at Oak Street, congestion at the bridge will simply transfer to other areas of Highway 99.
The clearest statement comes from the new  Provincial Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena who stated  We have talked to mayors who were very concerned that their vision for the Lower Mainland was not being recognized. As minister I think this is a responsible way to be acting when you are talking what will be, no matter what we do, whether it is a bridge, whether it is twinning the tunnel or tunnel and bridge combination, who knows what will come of this, but we are responsible with public money. We want to get this right.”

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  1. “The mayor had an enthusiastic audience … ”
    I am glad that not everyone buys into the “congested roads are good roads” mantra espoused by far too many mayors in the region today. Not every new or existing person or good can or will be transported by bike or bus, i.e. in the absence of any rapid transit solution car or truck use will continue to grow.
    Replacing 50-80 year old infrastructure in Canada’s major export/import hub is vital for not just Delta, but also BC and Canada. Lionsgate, Oak and Knight bridges need upgrading too, The 2040 vision needs updating badly.

  2. The average daily traffic count in the tunnel has plateaued and has actually decreased slightly 2003-14, hovering around 80,000 vehicles. Meanwhile, the Pattullo Bridge, a structure much older and within 5 years of expiring its design lifespan, receives the same amount of traffic 5 days out of 7 and is geographically located within the core Metro population.
    Priorities are with 20 of 21 mayors and the published mayor’s plan to replace the Pattullo over the Massey which is located several km from the population base.

    1. The new Patullo bridge is far too small.
      Bridges are vital for commerce and inter-city connection. How many bridges in Paris over the Seine ? And we have what ? 5 to the south side of the Fraser, for a population of 2.5M. Seems far too few. No wonder they are congested. Growth and immigration comes with cost, ie new infrastructure requirements. These old bridges were built for a population base not even a quarter the current or one sixth the 2040 size. The worldview underlying the 2040 traffic plan is wrong or one-sided, not taking into account a vast majority of residents !

        1. Bravo to that. How about more walkablestreets in Vancouver ?
          Bridges remain, to my knowledge. There’s dozens of bridges in Paris. We have only 5 crossings to the south: Golden Ears, Port Mann, Patullo, Alex Fraser and Massey.
          A few more, or certainly bigger ones would be useful in a growing region that is the import/export hub to growing Asia from the rest of growing Canada. Just more buses or bike lanes is not enough.

        2. Why not? Vienna is used in this context a lot here. Why not Paris’ bridges to accommodate the tens of thousands of daily crossings, just like MetroVan ?

        3. Thomas, every single one of the bridges you mention crossing the Fraser would fall outside of compact Paris were it superimposed over our region. Similarly you can ride your bike across the entirety of Vienna in a little over an hour. It would take many hours to do the same in sprawling metro Vancouver.
          Congestion comes from sprawl and the lack of transportation options that come with it.
          Both Paris and Vienna have metros and other public transit options serving their outer limits. That’s impossible here and a ten lane bridge won’t fix that.

        4. Well, unlike Vienna or Paris we do not have hundreds of years of settlement history. The issue of “affordability” was solved before the invention of the car and the elevator in almost all large European cities 200+ years with compact, to the curb, 6 (to maybe 7) story buildings.
          Look at the size of Vancouver when they installed the first subway in London in the 1860s due to congestion ! Tiny tiny tiny.
          As such, we need different solutions to a different historic evolution than Vienna or Paris (or London or Berlin or Madrid etc). We cannot just leave 60+ infrastructure as the status quo with our now massive immigration and marching to 100M people in 100 or so years. Look at the massive highways in France or UK or Germany. Many now tolled, btw.
          We need more roads AND more (rapid !!) public transit. It is not an either-or solution !

        5. Unfortunately Europe also made the big highway mistake. But we should learn from their cities not from their suburbs. Adding to our mistakes just because we made them in the first place won’t help. Adding to our mistakes just because somebody copied them is plain foolish.
          There may still be strategic highways to be built or expanded. But into low density sprawl and prime farmland is the last place we should invest in such infrastructure. Thomas, you still don’t seem to recognize the destructive power of a poorly conceived highway.

  3. Broadway Subway will get 100,000+ the day it opens. When it gets all the way to UBC that number is 250,000-300,000. If one was using utility theory, then more would benefit for putting the money into going right to UBC in the first phase, right away.
    It’s not all or nothing though, so given people’s penchant for not wanting to pay for the public goods/services they consume and the misperception (lowest tax burden in 40 years) about taxes, we do both, but scale down the bridge being over-built. Meanwhile the 50% from Commercial-Broadway going to UBC still schelp onto buses for another 15-20 years…

    1. Completely agree.
      Some will claim the demand all the way to the campus is not there. Maybe today it’s slightly behind the curve. Considering the important role sustainable urbanism must play immediately and in to the foreseeable future, there is ample reason to get ahead of the demand curve now. Phasing will cost more and is subject to the whims of the political cycle.

        1. I’d go a step further and say that no development in Jericho should happen until subway is funded and being built in parallel, not like Coquitlam or N Van or elsewhere in MetroVan where we add density and then realize “oops, loads of traffic & congestion”.
          deleted as per editorial policy. Please read policy.

      1. Or for the same money we could build shorter (half way to the city limits) LRT/tram lines on Hastings, Main and Kingsway etc and stop encouraging people to travel so far. Keep the population centred and tighter. Paris is the size of Vancouver proper with the population of metro. Long subway lines induce sprawl too. Those short LRT lines would be easy to extend compared to a subway. Jericho Lands and UBC are decades away from the densities required for a subway. The pushback will be fierce.
        Encouraging UBC staff/students to live in Coquitlam is just plain wrong.

    2. I don’t see a big ridership jump happening when it goes all the way to UBC, as there are not significant population densities west of Arbutus. Those destined for UBC will ride it from day one, just not all the way. And the part that they will ride, to Arbutus, is the part impacted most by congestion and thus schedule delays. Studies showed the Arbutus to UBC section was far more predictable in terms of travel time for surface transit.

  4. A skytrain extension to ( near ) Granville island with Rapid Bus to UBC via the Arbutus corridor to 16th would be almost a fast as a $3 billion UBC subway leaving more than $2 billion for more important transit improvements It could be extended to downtown WHEN the expo & canada lines reach capacity

    1. Broadway line is a given.
      The question is: why not all the way to UBC now with all the soon to be started Jericho development and massive densification at UBC already.. and: why are we not digging yet ? Such a no-brainer as one can see here in this KPMG study, for example
      A self-financing line due to increased real estate values and associated employment and real estate value growth.

      1. Why don’t you do the math for us? You have repeatedly proposed that municipalities should pay for additional rapid transit through property taxes. How much to extend the line to UBC? How many property owners at a UBC? How much per property? How many will sign up for that? Then take your proposal to your local elected rep.

        1. UBC owns the land at UBC. UBC is a provincial entity. Jericho land is a federal / indigenous joint venture. It will be THE biggest development site in all of Vancouver. Huge.
          Hence, all three parties ought to pony up cash to the line for the 20% to 33% non-provincial or federal slice of funding. The congestion will be unbelievable in the area once they start digging and once they start building Jericho without a subway. The funding grid lock / buck passing will be interesting. Presumably that is via TransLink.
          As an aside: UBC property taxes rise or fall along with Vancouver taxes as the UBC leases tie the property taxes to the Vancouver property market, so a condo valued at say $1M at UBC pays the same property taxes as if it were in Vancouver. Since condo values have not risen as fast as single family houses in Vancouver, the overall mill rate has dropped. As such, as UBC has only condos, UBC on behalf of UNA actually now collects less taxes for the 5000 or so condos at UBC than 3-4 years ago. Massive revenue shortfall at the UNA, the municipal-like council for UBC residents.
          Overall though property values along the line will rise, say double land values or more likely. That will massively increase property taxes for province and city, plus UBC can charge even more per acre for its sale of 99 year land leases. Indigenous plus fed JV on Jericho too will be able to collect huge premiums for condos or land or property taxes. All in essentially self funding for the few billion that have to be borrowed at sub 3% to build this no-brainer line. Addl taxes will vastly exceed this interest on the loan. Addl benefits like employment growth are shown in the KPMG report.
          Again: why are we not digging yet ?

        2. If “congestion will be unbelievable” with UBC and Jericho developments it would be a sign of disastrous planning. The only reason these developments would generate large increases in MV traffic is because they would be built with last century’s development model of separating jobs and amenities from residents. Both UBC and Jericho should be models of the best urban practices of mixed use with serious attempts made to balance all three,
          Just because we built energy sucking car dependence into our cities does not mean we need to continue the practice.
          UBC is well positioned to provide a balance of uses including affordable housing for staff and students but has largely failed to do so out of short term thinking. It should not be up to the taxpayer to dole out cash to fix the problems UBC creates for itself and others. Thomas, you are correct that UBC should have to pay directly for their share of any subway beyond Arbutus. That might actually force them to make proper planning decisions that don’t rely on expensive transportation solutions. They would benefit in the long run by creating a more dynamic, inclusive and liveable community.
          It will be a tougher job to get the balance right at Jericho, but in all likelihood the residential densities that are approved there will not be as high as some speculate. It took decades to get extremely modest increases in density on 8th Ave just two blocks to the west. There will be huge pushback in the neighbourhood against anything that exceeds about 4 stories. Not saying it won’t eventually be built out at higher densities but it will be so far in the future that multi-billion dollar investments in subways can be put on the back burner for a long time. There are more urgent places to spend transportation dollars.

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