The Alex Fraser Bridge is one of the most congested in Metro Vancouver, according to the Independent Mobility Pricing Commission. (Katya Slepian photo)

LETTERS: Can’t go down that road again

Editor: Re: Work begins on Alex Fraser Bridge counterflow lane, Dec. 22.

Editor:

Re: Work begins on Alex Fraser Bridge counterflow lane, Dec. 22, www.peacearchnews.com

Although we cannot fault the current Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena for the Alex Fraser’s traffic snarl, we can make it crystal clear they may well be going down the same road of not building bridges for the future.

The current project will add one lane to the Alex Fraser and install a movable barrier, at the cost of $70 million – a complete waste of money that could have been avoided if the government of 1980-1983 had listened.

The government of the day was lauding a new four-lane bridge. I kept pointing out that south of the Fraser – and South Surrey as a whole – was the area where the greatest population expansion was being planned.

I had lived through the original construction of the Port Mann, and I lived in Richmond when the new four-lane Knight Street Bridge was funded by us, the poor taxpayers. No one told us the two-lane Fraser Bridge was being removed, and no one looked even one year ahead on the expansion of housing in rural Richmond. Within weeks of the Knight Street Bridge’s opening, it was at gridlock.

The original cost of the Alex Fraser Bridge was $58 million. It cost that much because we, the North Delta residents who went to all of the meetings, were able to convince the government to build a four-lane bridge expandable to six lanes.

Had they looked 10 years into the future, the bridge should have been six lanes expandable to eight or, if they had taken transportation seriously, eight lanes expandable to 10. For $70 million dollars, we probably could have had a 12-lane bridge, but the government of the day was not committed to reducing gridlock. Now they are, right?

The new Pattullo Bridge is still being touted as a four-lane bridge. Hello? Three free-flow lanes from King George Boulevard, two free-flow lanes from Scott Road and one free-flow lane each direction from the new South Fraser Way/Highway 17 serving traffic from Tsawwassen, Victoria and the South Fraser Docks heading east, and Trans-Canada Highway west. That would equal 12 lanes, and even at 12 lanes, we are not looking 20 to 40 years ahead.

The Granville Bridge was built in 1954 and it is eight lanes. They could have built a two- or four-lane bridge, but they planned ahead so as not to waste the taxpayers’ money.

The minister’s job is to govern; at times that means forcing mayors and councils with the NIMBY syndrome to the table to find solutions that affect gridlock, minimizing the effect these traffic increases will have on the community, for the over-all good of Greater Vancouver.

Build adequate structures that will serve us well for 40 to 75 years. Let’s not repeat the current $70-million Alex Fraser Band-Aid solution. It is needed, but it could as easily have been avoided.

Sven Stefanov, North Delta

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