Tolls part of expanded bridge
Falcon: Transport minister confirms you will pay to cross new Port Mann
Frank Luba and John Bermingham, The Province
Published: Wednesday, June 07, 2006
You will pay a toll to drive across the expanded Port Mann Bridge, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon confirmed yesterday.
"There will be tolls," said Falcon, after unveiling poll results that showed 56-per-cent support for a toll of $2.50 [in 2005 dollars] and 70-per-cent support for a variable toll for off-peak periods. There might be times, like in the middle of the night, when there are no tolls.
"That's one of the things we went to the public with -- to determine what level of support there would be for tolling, to not only help pay for the infrastructure but to act as a traffic-management tool."
The government poll of 2,324 people asked their level of agreement with this statement: "To reduce congestion and limit growth, a toll of $2.50 each way on the Port Mann Bridge for private vehicles."
There was no question about whether people agreed with a toll or the project itself.
Tolls aren't a problem for Port Coquitlam truck driver John Steffen.
"Not if it gets me where I want to go without sitting in traffic causing pollution," said the 37-year-old.
While the province is proceeding full steam, Vancouver city council won't decide its Gateway game plan until next Tuesday.
At a special meeting yesterday, the NPA-led council deferred a vote on a wide-ranging response to the project.
Mayor Sam Sullivan backed the delay, and reiterated the city's opposition to the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and the widening of Highway 1.
"We need to have more time to look this over," said Sullivan.
COPE Coun. David Cadman said the Gateway Project needs to be dealt with now.
"We're all opposed to it," said
Cadman. "What are the priorities that rate higher than this? This is the livability of the city, the livability of the region."
Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie said Sullivan doesn't want to oppose the B.C. government's agenda.
"It is a reluctance on the part of the NPA to stand up," he said. "They're not pushing as hard as they should be."
It's not just Vancouver objecting to the plan.
"This is 1950s technology that he's suggesting we do," said Pierre Rovtar of the Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition, who ran unsuccessfully against Falcon in the last provincial election. "We need to focus on transit infrastructure."
The twinned Port Mann Bridge will be capable of carrying light-rail transit but B.C. has no plans to build more rapid transit.
The expansion will allow for buses to use the bridge, which Falcon says will be sufficient.
Other parts of the Gateway Project are raising alarms.
Like opponents of the overland route that Falcon is pushing through Eagleridge Bluffs in West Vancouver, residents of the Sunbury and Annieville areas of North Delta want four kilometres of the South Fraser Perimeter Road put in a tunnel to save habitat, heritage and their views of the Fraser River and North Shore mountains.
Don Hunt of the Sunbury Neighbourhood Association was particularly critical of the Gateway public consultation.
"The process is flawed," said Hunt. "It's not exactly asking for public opinion, they're more telling you what is happening and then letting you pick some details."
© The Vancouver Province 2006