Tunnel fight not over, group warns
While officials of the Gateway program were hosting an open house on the North Delta leg of the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) Tuesday night at the North Delta recreation centre, some residents were holding their own informal open house one floor below.
“We set up in the hallway downstairs,” said Don Hunt, a member of the Sunbury Neighbourhood Association, which put up posters and handed out pamphlets lobbying for a tunnel in place of the proposed four-lane commercial truck route through North Delta.
Gateway has ruled out a tunnel because of cost, estimating an underground road would cost $400 to $500 million compared to $180 million for a conventional highway.
However, the residents group says Gateway has been too quick to dismiss the notion of a tunnel.
Hunt disputed the Gateway highway estimates, saying the precise cost of expropriating 75 properties for the road and potential design changes to meet environmental regulations isn’t known nor is the financial impact of the new highway on property values.
“They’re guessing (at those costs).”
The group argues Ottawa should cover the extra cost of a tunnel because the rest of the country is benefitting from a road designed to handle traffic through two container ports in Delta and Surrey that is bound for other regions of Canada.
“The federal government should be paying the whole shot, instead of a portion,” Hunt said. “Like it did for the St. Lawrence Seaway.”
The Sunbury group believes funding should come from the billions of dollars Ottawa has collected in gas taxes from B.C. over the years.
“There’s the money to pay for the tunnel, to do it properly,” said Hunt, who promised the residents will continue to campaign for an underground option.
Construction of the planned $800-million four-lane commercial road to unclog traffic congestion south of the Fraser is scheduled to begin in 2007.
- The next Gateway forum on the SFPR is scheduled for Tuesday, June 13 at the Bridgeview Community Hall at 11475 126A Street from 6 to 9 p.m.