Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘short sea shipping

Guy Gentner goes after the SFPR

with one comment

The Province

A report commissioned by local port authorities but virtually ignored by the B.C. government for more than three years now raises serious doubts about the economic viability of building the $1-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road.

In fact, the holes it opens in the so-called rationale for this 40-kilometre, four-lane truck freeway through Delta farmland and Burns Bog are large enough to drive an 18-wheel container truck through.

Perhaps its biggest flaw is Victoria’s failure to look seriously at alternatives for moving more shipping containers to and from an expanding Deltaport at Roberts Bank.

But is that news? The report endorses the use barges to move containers – as does the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (though I am told they have been told to shut up about that). Of course it does not say that the future of the container trade is looking dim – in fact only a couple of days ago Paul Landry (of the truckers association) was quoted as saying there is expected to be rapid growth. He did not say who expects it. What also seems to have escaped attention is that River Road is lined with industrial and distribution activities – which themselves generate lots of truck trips. So the claim that River Road will be relieved of truck traffic is obvious nonsense too.

As the 112-page report by Novacorp International concluded in 2005, it is economically feasible to transfer huge numbers of containers to and from container ships at Roberts Bank by using Fraser River barges for ongoing distribution via rail or truck well outside the Greater Vancouver core.

Well, maybe – I haven’t read the report. But if they are going by rail, why not just put them on trains at Roberts Bank and save the extra handling? The agricultural land there is apparently going to be covered by new railway tracks anyway.  The barge option works if the “stripping and stuffing” of containers is remote from the port. For less than full load consignments, a lot of containers are unpacked, and then the goods reloaded with other goods from other containers into trailers – or other containers – for distribution to retailers. Not much of this goes on at the riverside right now but the Port Authority has been looking for potential sites. And the people in the Valley are none too happy about that. They think there are more attractive things you can do with a river bank, that do not generate so much truck traffic.

The EA for the SFPR was a waste of time. But the real crunch issue is the whole fallacy of the Gateway. The world has moved on from the economic arrangement that ruled at the time it was thought of. And BC seems to be building for a demand that is no longer there.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 12, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Gateway

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