A letter writer and business owner says that tolls (which will be mandated for the new Port Mann Bridge

Tolls a barrier to business

When the Golden Ears Bridge was announced years ago the government said the Albion Ferries would remain as there had to be an untolled alternate route.

We know how that turned out, with the two ferries being sold as scrap.

The argument at that time was that we could use the Port Mann or Mission bridges so the ferry was redundant. Those alternate routes require at least 20 kilometres of extra travel but still are cheaper on fuel for most small cars versus paying a toll twice.

Then the new Port Mann Bridge was announced with a toll system that seems to change weekly.

So now the toll-free alternate routes are the Pattullo and Mission bridges for those of us with reason to visit north of the Fraser.

I have heard stories of the big box retailers just over the Port Mann being nervous that those 500,000-plus residents of Surrey and Langley might not be happy to pay to come shop.

I own a wood flooring shop in North Delta and have the same concern regarding my customers north of the Fraser River.

Unlike the big operations, small operators like myself can’t afford to have multiple locations so we are hit harder by barriers to free travel. I can already foresee paying back customers to compensate for the tolls.

Reading the story about the Pattullo and the tolls has once again brought me to a boil. Why is it that only projects linking communities south of the Fraser get the toll treatment?

The Lion’s Gate Bridge had a major upgrade. The Iron Workers Memorial Bridge was completely redone.

They built the new Cambie Street bridge (even though you can drive around False Creek to Downtown without even using a bridge).

The Upper Levels Highway had major upgrades eliminating the light-controlled intersections.

Then there is the grand-daddy of them all the Sea-to-Sky Highway, built so we can all get to our multi-million-dollar cottages in Whistler. (There is an alternate route to Whistler by way of Highway #1 to Lillooet and over by way of the Duffy Lake Road).

How is it that all those projects found funding without tolls? The Tri-Cities must love the fact that they get to use the improved highway all the way into Vancouver with out paying a single toll.

About a year ago I wrote to a few ministers and Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts suggesting that all bridges in the TransLink area be tolled at a reasonable rate, say 50 cents.

I have heard that same idea in the news recently so hopefully it might actually be considered. Surrey, Langley and Delta have the worst transit service and yet we pay at least as much to TransLink as the rest of the region.

Then they further insult us by creating a financial barrier to travel and business. But hey, we’re only Surrey.

Ron Teljeur, Surrey

Surrey North Delta Leader

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