Beware of politicians offering $3.5-billion gifts, as they maybe mere White Elephants, haunting the taxpayer for generations to come.
If one thinks that the B.C. Liberals’ new $3.5-billion Massey Bridge, replacing the perfectly good George Massey Tunnel, will improve traffic congestion, one had better take off their rose-coloured glasses because, despite the hype and hoopla, all the $3.5-billion bridge will do is move congestion about three kilometres north to about Steveston Highway.
The answer is simple math. The Arthur Laing, Oak, Knight and Queensborough bridges are at or near capacity throughout the day and the new traffic brought by the bridge will just sit idling on Highway 99 as the larger amount of cars using the new bridge will have nowhere to go and will crawl through Richmond unless another bridge is built to Burnaby/Vancouver.
Those glad-handing this project have seemed to have slept through their math classes.
As planning for this bridge is not part of a regional transportation plan, then we must accept that regional transportation and transit planning has all but come to an end in the South Fraser region.
The real reason for this bridge is again, simple math. Fraser Surrey Docks wants to bring in massive tankers and colliers to load liquefied natural gas, dirty bitumen oil from Alberta and even dirtier Montana coal, and these massive new ships have a much deeper draft than existing ships plying the Fraser River. So deep are these ships’ drafts that the Fraser must be dredged to a depth below the existing George Massey Tunnel.
The premier’s $3.5-billion vanity project is in reality a massive $3.5-billion subsidy to Fraser Surrey Docks and maybe they should pay for the bridge.
Like the capacity-constipated Canada Line, which is the only heavy-rail metro in the world built as a light metro having less capacity than a streetcar, this new bridge may prove to be a White Elephant for future generations, needing billions of dollars more for future improvements.
The new Fraser River bridge is pure “B.C. blacktop” politics, which will provide pricey photo-ops at election times, for it will not bring much-hoped-for improvements to our regional transportation system.
Footnote: A tolled Fraser River bridge will be the death-knell of the Tsawwassen Mills mega mall, as very few people will pay a toll to shop in Tsawwassen.
D. M. Johnston