COLUMN: Bridge tolls up in the air

COLUMN: Bridge tolls up in the air

Why should tolls only be applied to the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges?

The tolls on the Port Mann Bridge may not be $3 per trip, when the tolling begins near the end of this year.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom has mused that they could be lower for the first year the new bridge is open, as the full highway improvement project will not be complete. There will be eight lanes open instead of 10, as the old bridge needs to be taken down before all lanes can be made operational.

Any discussion of lower tolls, combined with the fact that there is a provincial election coming up in 2013, is purely coincidental.

Details of the tolling policy will be announced in early September. At that time, we’ll get some sense of where Lekstrom’s musings have led. While Lekstrom has declined to even speculate about what the tolls could be, there is pretty widespread guessing that initial tolls will be $2. If this comes about, it will certainly be a significant relief to many commuters who use the bridge regularly, and it may even net a few votes for the Liberals that they would otherwise lose.

However, it is important to think about this whole issue on a longer-term and more sustained basis. Why should tolls only be applied to the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges, two of the five river crossings that are most accessible to Surrey residents? Why are there no tolls on any bridges or crossings (other than BC Ferries) elsewhere in the region and the province?

One of the most challenging problems in coming up with a comprehensive policy is that so many agencies have jurisdictions over bridges. The Port Mann comes under the provincial government’s mandate, while Golden Ears Bridge is TransLink’s property.

TransLink also owns the Pattullo Bridge, which is slated to be replaced by a toll bridge at some point in time. That new bridge is likely some distance away, given TransLink’s financial challenges.

Both the Alex Fraser and Massey Tunnel crossings are also owned by the provincial government, and there has been no suggestion of any tolls on either. Alex Fraser in particular is likely to see a significant increase in traffic when tolls start on the Port Mann. The Pattullo will also see increased traffic, although how much more it can handle during rush hours is open to debate.

A number of politicians have suggested universal tolls on all bridges in the Lower Mainland of 75 cents or $1. While this would certainly make things fair, and would also provide some needed cash for road and bridge improvements, to get all the various jurisdictions on the same page would be a huge challenge.

Surrey and other South Fraser residents will pay a disproportionate amount of tolls to the province and TransLink. If Surrey residents as a whole were better off than most other regional residents, that could perhaps be justified.

But Surrey residents do not have a much higher standard of living than most other regional residents, nor do they have access to good transit service. In fact, transit service south of the Fraser is significantly worse than in many other parts of the region.

There is supposed to be a rapid bus service over the new bridge, but thus far there isn’t the funding to operate it. Lekstrom says it will go ahead. We’ll see.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Just Posted

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Scales of Justice, Image courtesy Creative Outlet
Scales of Justice, Image courtesy Creative Outlet
Teacher’s elbow injury case against Surrey School District, WorkSafeBC struck by judge

Judge says processes put in place by legislation, collective agreement must be followed

Doris Anderson’s digital triptych Aberration, which she is marketing as an NFT.
Semiahmoo Peninsula abstract painter dives into NFT market

Works sold as one-of-a-kind digital files

Vancouver law courts. (File photo)
Surrey murderer loses appeal in 2011 Christmas eve shooting in Newton

Bradley McPherson, 28, was shot in the back of the head during an after-hours house party

How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

The arrest south of Winnipeg occurred before Bernier was to arrive at a protest in the city. (Twitter/Maxime Bernier)
Maxime Bernier arrested following anti-rules rallies in Manitoba: RCMP

He’s been charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self-isolate

Cruise ship passengers arrive at the port of Ketchikan, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

Most Read