Stephen Rees's blog

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

Interchange ‘entirely for port,’ says councillor

with 5 comments

Richmond Review

The City of Richmond has long wanted another interchange on the freeway. Their preferred location would be Highway #99 at Blundell. The province does not want to do that, but has offered a new partial interchange on Highway #91 at Nelson Road. However, in order to get that Richmond would have to contribute $3m.

One of the reasons the City is saying it needs the interchange is to reduce truck traffic on Westminster Highway. This has increased dramatically as the port industrial lands on the south arm between LaFarge and Riverport have been developed. Richmond would like the new access road to be grade separated at Westminster Highway. They can’t have that either.

Local councillor Harold Steves is quoted in the paper edition but very oddly, this is left out of the on-line version I linked to above.

Steves maintains the province wants to build a new bridge over the South Arm of the Fraser at No 8 Road and the new interchange is needed to facilitate it.

“Everything to build this new crossing is falling into place,” he said. “It would destroy East Richmond farmland.”

The Ministry of Transport never gives up on a defeated road proposal.  This one has been around for a long time. It would also have, of course, a new crossing of the North Arm to connect up to Boundary Road.

Screen shot 2009-10-24 at 4.28.57 PM If you look to the map on the left, Boundary Road runs due south from the point where Highway #1 turns east. Just draw a mental line due south, and you will see how it neatly falls halfway between the Deas Tunnel and the Alex Fraser, and skirts (or not depending on how you define it) the brown area in the middle of Delta – Burns Bog. It would remove some traffic from both Marine Drive and the Knight Street bridge to the west and the Queensborough Bridge to the east.   And it would also add capacity which is currently maximised at the tunnel. While the counterflow system designed to ease commuting to and from Vancouver does help those flows, it does so at the expense of counter peak movements – which have increased significantly as a result of the dispersal of both employment and industry away from Vancouver’s downtown.

Previous proposals from the MoT fell foul of the Cities of Vancouver and Richmond, as well as creating great concern over the ALR, the Bog and the green zone generally.  This route is missing from Transport 2021, which was incorporated in to the LRSP. Of course the province no longer has any concerns about these issues, as it determination to pursue the Gateway project on the south bank of the South Arm demonstrates. You can also see how much of the land south of Westminster Highway is now grey not green. That’s port industrial development, and a lot of it fairly recent. The picture below shows the view upstream from the east end of Steveston Highway. The left side of the picture is almost filled with empty containers stored on new fill, mostly dredged from the shipping channel – a process which is continuing even as I write this.

The Review piece is mainly a response to the urging last week of the local MLA to accept the deal that is being offered. There is no response from the Port, but also no word at all from the MoT. The previous minister dismissed calls for the doubling of  the Deas Tunnel, saying that is was not a current priority for the province. And, of course, if the long range plans of the MoT never change, which certainly seems to be the case, that might well explain his response. It is probably cheaper now to build yet another cable stayed, post tensioned bridge (like the Golden Ears) than sink more tubes adjacent to the existing tunnel. But more importantly, as Steves notes, it also opens up a lot of land for highway oriented development. In exactly the same way as the SFPR converts land from agriculture to industry in Delta. And as the widening of Highway #1 will facilitate along the valley.

Container storage

Written by Stephen Rees

October 24, 2009 at 3:57 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Ron Stromberg pushed for this in the mid-1990s. He may have also been the one to push to have Wendell Cox write a report for the precursor to Translink. The report is similar to that written for Montreal calling for the extension of ring-road Autoroute 30 along the south shore.


    October 25, 2009 at 8:24 am

  2. Oh, great Wendall Cox, the great hired gun for the anti-rail (all rail) types.

    But certainly this proposal ties in with Gordo’s grand highway plans and certainly the Road Builders Association and Paul Landry’s truckers will rejoice to have the taxpayer build yet another highway through farmland, which will in turn bring great joy to the land speculators and developers.

    And all this, just in time when “peak-oil” hits the proverbial fan in about 2020.

    What then?

    Joni Mitchell anyone?

    Malcolm J.

    October 25, 2009 at 8:55 am

  3. In 15 years the current generation of young people will be taking over the upper level positions at all levels of government.

    We are not products of the automobile age, but rather children of the end of it. It will be our job to reverse the thousands of bad decisions made by the current generation. We can only hope that your generation hasn’t bankrupted us too badly and there is still something to work with.

    We will plug the giant sucking hole that automobile infrastructure expansion makes at the bottom of the economy.

    So nice going guys. Keep up with your highway building. I for one am looking forward to converting the empty roads of the future back to farmland as the economic, social and environmental costs of dreaming that we can pay for anything indefinitely catch up with us.


    October 25, 2009 at 10:24 am

  4. Hi Steve

    Great comment. I think however the future won’t be as much about ‘reversing’ the current decisions as it will be about making the best of the them under different circumstances (i.e. higher population and higher energy costs).

    How can we ‘retool’ the millions of internal-combustion engines and highway miles out there to meet the needs of a post-oil civilization? New York is setting examples for the world with things like bus-only lanes and elevated greenways (see

    Certainly a lot of decisions will need to be reversed, but what I’m personally looking forward to is seeing the ways people come up with to use existing infrastructure in new and previously unimagined ways.

    Chris S

    October 25, 2009 at 3:57 pm

  5. Steve,

    if its any consolation, when society does come to its senses and starts to reverse the wasteful investments in cars and trucks and their infrastructure (aka the most inefficient mode of mass transport we’ve ever developed, whether powered by gasoline, electricity or fairy dust) you will find yourselves much wealthier, healthier and happier.
    You’ll find yourself with a fair amount of money, time and good ideas to get over the mess left by our generation and earlier.


    October 25, 2009 at 10:33 pm

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