Sunbury Neighbourhood Association

the PROVINCE - July 23, 2007

Victoria must look at Deltaport truck route alternatives
The longer Gordon Campbell’s Liberals govern British Columbia, the more they seem to display a worrying lack of flexibility, especially when it comes to key issues like transportation.

Faced with rising gridlock in the fast-growing Fraser Valley, for example, the government has prepared a transportation plan — and is sticking to it, come hell or high water.

The trouble is the plan appears to be based more on industry imperatives than the needs of local folks.

Thanks to booming Asia-Pacific trade and a sharp rise in container traffic at Deltaport, it envisages huge increases in the number of trucks rumbling through Delta, Surrey and other valley communities.

The plan includes the building the South Fraser Perimeter Road, which has proved highly controversial among homeowners — who say that, as well as driving many people out of their homes, it will ruin valuable farmland and run dangerously close to environmentally-sensitive Burns Bog.

It also includes the building of up to nine railway overpasses to handle trains carrying coal and other freight to Deltaport, which is undergoing a major expansion.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging B.C.’s trade with Asia. And clearly, special provision needs to be made to ease the flow of truck traffic, if only to get the trucks off roads used by regular commuters.

But for the average Fraser Valley ratepayer, the basic problems of getting around the region remain — especially given the limited public transit available. And it seems that Victoria is giving short shrift to traffic alternatives proposed by community leaders.

Delta-Richmond East MP John Cummins, for example, has proposed moving freight from Deltaport to Abbotsford along a dedicated, electrified rail line running mainly through industrial areas.

The freight would be offloaded at a number of distribution depots, well away from population centres. Also, the freight-only line would free existing rail tracks for use as much-needed, interurban, public transit — all the way to Chilliwack.

As Cummins points out, this kind of inland marshalling system, linked by rail to a saltwater port, is being built in Holland. It’s also under active consideration by the Port of Los Angeles.

Now is the time for Victoria to examine this proposal and others that seem promising — not only for the trucking industry, but also for long-suffering local residents. What do you think? Leave a brief comment, name and town at: 604-605-2029, fax: 604-605-2099 or e-mail:

© The Vancouver Province 2007


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