Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for September 18th, 2006

GVRD “strongly opposed” to bridge twinning

leave a comment »


posted 1522 September 22

Carmen Mills reports to the trans-action list serve

A motion was put forward at today’s GVRD meeting by Vancouver City Councillor Susan Anton to strongly oppose the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and the Highway One Expansion. After 3.5 hrs of sharp debate and drama the motion passed, 54 to 52!

So the downbeat Surrey Leader story below was a bit premature!

This story comes from the Surrey Leader.

I am not sure if that link will always work – probably not – but there should be a quote here

Regional politicians have abandoned hardline criticism of plans to twin the Port Mann Bridge and are instead poised to “work cooperatively” with transportation minister Kevin Falcon on his $3-billion Gateway program.

Tuesday’s decision was dubbed a sell-out and cave-in by critics, who said even if Greater Vancouver Regional District directors have no real power to stop the twinning they should stand against it on principle.

The turning point came at the GVRD’s land use and transportation committee, where all members but one voted to back a compromise position that accepts Gateway and the twinning will proceed.

This is depressing but inevitable news. Perhaps the greatest sadness is that the end of the Livable Region came at the hands of the man who wrote most of it – Gordon Campbell. Now the provincial premier, he was Chair of the GVRD back in the early nineties when a determined push for consensus got all 21 municipalities to sign on to the LRSP.

It is now received wisdom that expanding highway capacity attracts more traffic, and that any relief in congestion by increasing capacity is quickly overcome by the fact that more trips will be made once the constraint of congestion is removed. It is like trying to cure obesity by buying a bigger pair of trousers. And this effect is felt before the land use starts changing. Add the impact of increased sprawl once new lanes are opened and we are far worse off afterwards than we are now. And a lot of money will have been spent that is urgently needed in other parts of the transportation system that could have used to provide alternatives to driving.

A $2.50 per vehicle toll is proposed.

A flat fee for every user, no doubt, and also, no doubt, with promises to lift the toll once the bridge is paid for. Because that is current provincial policy. In a world which is rapidly changing, BC stays stuck in the fifties, with Gordo trying to ape Wacky Bennett.

If this state of affairs is of concern to you, go look at the Livable Region Coalition’s webpage.
Sweden has just elected a new government that is committed to introducing congestion charges. Of course, congestion charges work everywhere – except BC. No-one at the province or the GVTA has ever seriously looked at what imposing congestion charges on the Port Mann could achieve, both in terms of revenue generation and congestion relief that would actually make it possible to run buses across the bridge without any widening.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 18, 2006 at 1:27 pm

‘English as tuppence, changing yet changeless as canal water, …’

with one comment

The image below was posted on by Paul Bowery. He put a quote from Vivian Stanshall in his sig block, which I have used as the title of this piece.

Jena Paddington Basin 2006-09-16 photo by Paul Bowery

The picture seems to me to capture what is going wrong in our cities. The water is the only thing that is unchanged: probably a bit cleaner, since narrow boats all have chemical toilets and do not discharge raw sewage into the waterways the way they do here. The most obvious is the elevated motorway, casting a fearful gloom all around it, dominating the scene.

Canal sides used to feature small friendly pubs, catering to the people who worked on the boats. Many survive, now catering to the recreational users of the waterways. But what do we have here? The anonymous concrete and glass block which could be flats or offices. And the universal sandwich shop “Subway”. As fast food goes, not the most objectionable by any means. Fairly healthy actually, but the design is the same everywhere. And the Subway map is New York (of course).

How much of this scene is English? The narrow boat echoes the traditional design and the dimensions are dictated by the locks: 70 feet long by 7 feet wide . Others are more faithful to traditional colours and decorations.

Fortunately only a small percentage of the miles of English canals look like this. I would recommend them for a holiday to anyone. Maximum speed 4mph, and mostly through English countryside – much of which is still unspoiled. You will not, of course, see any commercial traffic. The last narrow boats carrying freight operated from Brenford to Hemel Hempstead on the Grand Union Canal in the early 1970s. Below is one of the last survivors still in use, owned by British Waterways and used for maintenance.

Archimedes Harlesden Paul Bowery Photo

I spent several years trying to promote the use of inland waterways for freight traffic. The only new traffic I saw start was on the River Thames. As commercial shipping moved down river, and the docks closed, sea dredged aggregate began to brought in to meet the insatiable demands for ready mixed concrete. And domestic refuse, all neatly packed in ISO containers, from GLC transfer stations along the river bank to land reclamation sites on the Essex marshes.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 18, 2006 at 9:03 am