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

Archive for July 31st, 2008

Transforming the Gateway Project: More Important Now Than Ever

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20/20 Vision BC

The following is the text from the August 2008 edition of the 20/20 Vision “postcard”

Background: The BC Government’s Gateway Project was announced in 2004 with claims it would reduce congestion and enhance travel for people and goods around the lower mainland. It includes widening Highway 1 from the Second Narrows Bridge in Vancouver to Langley, twinning the Port Mann Bridge, and building a four-lane truck highway called the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) around Burn’s Bog to allow a tripling of container truck traffic from Deltaport at Roberts Bank.
Since the introduction of the project, costs of gas and construction have increased so much the budget for the project is now completely inaccurate. As well, the BC government just introduced a carbon tax and committed to a Climate Action Plan calling for reducing the number of kilometers traveled in vehicles. Yet the government still plans to spend billions of dollars to promote vehicle traffic with the Gateway Project.
Building freeways and bridges has proven to always attract more cars and with them more pollution and gridlock. Now, more than ever, the Gateway Project has become illogical, contradictory and economically unfeasible.

BC’s Climate Action Plan states “transportation is the leading contributor to BC’s greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for approximately 36 per cent of the total in 2006.” To achieve our legally mandated goal of reducing BC’s greenhouse gas emissions by 33% by 2020, we must reduce — not increase — all vehicle traffic.
The Gateway Project will have many negative consequences including:
1. Huge costs to residents who will pay for Gateway for decades to come through tolls
and taxes which would go to private corporations under public private partnership
(P3) contracts.
2. Increases in greenhouse gas emission and pollution levels contravening both and the
Climate Action Plan and the carbon tax initiative.
3. Expanded car-dependent urban sprawl, contradicting the Livable Region Strategic
Plan that calls for reduced car dependency, improved transit, and local self-sufficiency.
4. Destruction of internationally significant wildlife habitat and marine life in Roberts
Bank, Boundary Bay, the Fraser River, as well as Burn’s Bog — our lungs and carbon sink.
5. Loss of farmland threatening local food security, production, and quality.

It is not too late to green Gateway by reallocating the Gateway billions to provide high quality rapid  transit with affordable fares, and move goods efficiently and cleanly with barges and rail. We also need to follow the lead of Washington State that recently passed a law calling on the government to make substantial cuts in vehicle miles traveled. The law sets goals of 18 per cent reduction in per capita vehicle miles traveled by 2020 and 30 per cent reduction by 2035. Such legislation would be an important step toward a greener, cleaner BC.

What you can do: Contact Premier Campbell and congratulate him on BC’s Climate Action Plan. Urge him to transform the Gateway Project to correspond with the Climate Action Plan’s emission reduction goals. We need highly efficient transit systems for people and goods at a fraction of Gateway’s cost to taxpayers and our environment. Send a copy to Ms. James letting her know this is an election issue. We need a government that will take a strong position to green Gateway.

Premier Gordon Campbell
Room 156, Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

Email: premier@gov.bc.ca

Send a copy to:

Honourable Carole James
Opposition Leader
Room 201, Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

Email: carole.james.mla@leg.bc.ca

Written by Stephen Rees

July 31, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Gateway