With a new budget showing the Port Mann bridge still isn’t making its costs through tolls, and committing hundreds of millions of dollars to replace the George Massey tunnel, Transportation Minister Todd Stone says a broad review of tolls will have to wait.
Now that a $3.5-billion toll bridge for the Massey crossing is a commitment, a decision by the regional mayors’ council on the future of the Pattullo bridge is the next step, Stone said Thursday.
“And if they move forward with a tolled bridge to replace the Pattullo, that would leave the Alex Fraser as the only non-tolled option, and that would not be workable for the region,” Stone said.
“That being said, we also know the George Massey construction period is going to take another four and a half years. Pattullo, assuming they make a decision on that, would take four or five years.
“So there’s lots of time to have this discussion broadly across the region, as to how people in the region want to pay their share for these transportation projects.”
On Port Mann tolls, Stone said the revenues are on schedule since the original traffic estimates for the bridge were adjusted three years ago from the original plan that proved “too aggressive.
“But what hasn’t changed throughout this entire period was the commitment to pay off the entire debt for this bridge before 2050,” he said.
Ministry figures show traffic on the Port Mann is up 14 per cent from 2015 to 2016, with $145 million paid in tolls in the past year.
But after expenses, depreciation and borrowing costs, the Port Mann project recorded a net loss of $88 million for 2016.
Ongoing annual losses of nearly $90 million are forecast for each of the next three years, pushing the project’s debt steadily higher.