Sunbury Neighbourhood Association

 

Candidates hit the road on transportation

 
By Philip Raphael
South Delta Leader
praphael@southdeltaleader

Nov 04 2005
Gridlock on the highway routes. Heavy traffic rambling through neighbourhood streets. And the ongoing debate over which is the best route for a South Fraser Perimeter Road.
Those are some of the subjects civic candidates discussed when the South Delta Leader asked them to talk about their views on solving Delta's transportation woes.
TriDelta incumbent councillor Scott Hamilton said Delta's residential neighbourhoods have to be returned to the people who live there and away from the commercial traffic that routinely spills over to numerous areas in North and South Delta.
 
Top:Alleviating traffic choke points across Delta, like this one on Highway 17, is the promise of all candidates, but they differ on the solutions.

He pointed to the situation in the Annieville and Sunbury areas where life has become intolerable for many with increasing amounts of truck traffic.
The solution? Adopt the South Fraser Perimeter Road that will skirt the northern edge of Burns Bog, he said, adding that would create a "hard edge" to the preserved wet lands.
Hamilton said he saw that as beneficial because it "would define the area and not allow any more development beyond there."
Perimeter road a key

Delta First mayoralty candidate Bruce McDonald said transportation issues in Delta boil down to a "little thing called the South Fraser Perimeter Road."
He added that the time has come to take action on the issue and work closely with the Gateway Program and the province to "push the issue through."
Delta First is backing a Ladner bypass route that would skirt the northern edge of Burns Bog, something McDonald believes would not pose a problem for road builders or the environment.
"I don't believe that to be true," he said, discounting concerns that soil conditions in the area would hamper road building adjacent to the bog. "It's not Roman Roads built on rock, but it shouldn't be a problem."
On the potential impact to the bog itself, McDonald said establishing a definable, hard edge to the protected wetlands may even help improve the area, protecting it from further encroachment.
As for council's support for an improved Highway 10 and Highway 17 interchange instead of a bypass route, McDonald characterised it as a non-starter.
"I don't think it can be done," he said.
In North Delta, McDonald said it has yet to be proven that a tunnel option for a portion of the South Fraser Perimeter Road, linking up 96 Avenue to River Road, is not affordable.
"That needs a definite explanation," he said. "We're told by the Gateway people that it's too expensive. And it may very well be."
But that needs to be proven before the idea is abandoned, he added.
According to independent candidate Ann Claggett, the time for more discussion about a South Fraser Perimeter Road is over and action must be taken to develop the plan put forward by the Gateway Program which would divert truck traffic to a new road north of Burns Bog and parallel to River Road.
Time for talk over

"I remember talking about this issue back in 1990," said Claggett a former councillor. "And still nothing has happened.
"Let's take the plan that's currently being put forward by the experts and put it in place."
On transportation issues in North Delta, Claggett said she would like to see traffic calming measures introduced to neighbourhoods that some commuters are using as short cuts to Highway 91.
"Things like traffic roundabouts and speed bumps," could be introduced in those areas where there are problems, she said.
Fellow independent candidate and incumbent councillor Vicki Huntington said she also sees the establishment of a South Fraser Perimeter Road as the main transportation issue facing North and South Delta, but does not support the Gateway Program's option.
Huntington said construction of a new South Fraser Perimeter Road close to the northern edge of Burns Bog will likely be a more costly endeavour than anticipated given the spongy composition of the soil in the area. Plus, a road there could also drastically affect the hydrology of the bog.
For that reason alone, Huntington said "no level of government should support a road that goes so close to a natural conservancy area."
Huntington said she supports the Hoover-Naas proposal which would divert truck traffic along a new, truck-dedicated east-west corridor parallel to the BC Rail tracks, then connect with the Highway 91 interchange for access to the Alex Fraser Bridge.
"It's (Hoover-Naas) less costly and will have a much smaller impact than any other route," she said.
Former Delta councillor, North Delta MLA and now an independent candidate Norm Lortie said North and South Delta live in two solitudes but share one major traffic concern-the South Fraser Perimeter Road.
For North Deltans, he said the issue is getting truck traffic off River Road.
"It's essentially a residential road and suffers from horrendous traffic problems."
Tunnel an option for 96 Ave.

Like McDonald, Lortie wants the option of a tunnel from 96 Avenue down to River Road explored fully and not simply dismissed as unaffordable.
"We need to see the figures. Saying it's too expensive when they don't give you the exact costs is sometimes just an excuse."
In South Delta, Lortie said he prefers a Ladner bypass route to ease the crush of truck traffic along Highway 17. But to accomplish those goals, Lortie said council has to be more open to discussing the issues with other civic bodies-various city councils and the GVRD-as well as the provincial government.
"The current council seems to be rather insular, and you can't solve problems without having conversations," he said. "The next council, which I hope to be part of, needs to reach out to other levels of government because you can't get anything done by keeping your head buried in the sand. Otherwise, you can find that the unique way of life you've been fighting to protect can actually be eroded."