While the provincial government’s Gateway program has ruled out a tunnel for the section of the SFPR that will run near residential neighbourhoods because of the expense, the municipal report says a less costly covered roof should be considered.
Gateway estimates an underground road would cost $400 to $500 million compared to $180 million for a conventional highway.
However, some residents say Ottawa should cover the extra cost of a tunnel because the rest of the country is benefiting from a road designed to handle traffic through two container ports in Delta and Surrey that is bound for other regions of Canada.
The covered roof proposal was contained in a scathing assessment of the environmental impact of the planned $800-million four-lane commercial road, prepared by municipal staff and presented to council Monday.
The document was unanimously endorsed by council.
The report will form the formal written response by the municipality to the BC Environmental Assessment Office, which has set a Dec. 17 deadline for public input on the proposal.
The staff assessment concludes that Gateway has overestimated the benefits and downplayed the drawbacks of the road.
The design doesn’t do enough to replace lost farmland and environmentally sensitive areas near, but not in, the Burns Bog ecological reserve, the report maintains.
It predicts the road will create “orphaned” parcels of land that will be of little use for agriculture or industry.
Gateway should be required to replace the agricultural land absorbed by the road, and should also be required to build overpasses for farmers and other traffic to get across the truck route, the report says.
While Gateway is predicting the project will bring $94 million in new tax revenue from development along the road, city planners estimate the SFPR will cause the loss of 190 acres of industrial land and a tax loss of $66 million.
Construction of the SFPR is scheduled to begin in 2007.