The Alex Fraser Bridge is one of the most congested in Metro Vancouver, according to the Independent Mobility Pricing Commission. (Katya Slepian photo)

LETTER: ‘Band-Aid solution’ for Alex Fraser could have been avoided

North Delta resident Sven Stefanov says better planning could help avoid costly road projects

Re: “Work begins on Alex Fraser Bridge counterflow lane,” NDR Vol. 2 No. 52, Dec. 28, 2017

It is with mixed emotions that I read James Smith’s Dec. 28 article in the North Delta Reporter on the Alex Fraser’s counterflow lane project. Although we cannot fault the current Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena for the Alex Fraser’s traffic snarl (a minister who is quoted as saying, “Our government is committed to finding solutions that will reduce gridlock”), we can fault the government for the current spending. We can also make it crystal clear that they may well be going down the same road of not building bridges for the future.

The current project will add one lane to the Alex Fraser and install a movable barrier at the cost of $70 million. A complete waste of public money [that could have been avoided] if the government of 1980 to 1983 (when construction began —and some are still on Delta’s council) had listened. I was at all of the meetings on the proposed new bridge. The government of the day was lauding a new four-lane bridge. I kept pointing out that south of the Fraser, and South Surrey as a whole, was the area where the greatest population expansion was being planned.

I had lived through the original construction of the Port Mann, and I lived in Richmond when the new four-lane Knight Street Bridge was funded by us, the poor taxpayers. No one told us the two-lane Fraser Bridge was [being removed], and no one looked even one year ahead on the expansion of housing in the rural farming community of Richmond. Within weeks of the Knight Street Bridge’s opening, it was at gridlock.

The original cost of the Alex Fraser Bridge was $58 million, and it cost that much because we, the North Delta residents who went to all of the meetings, were able to convince the government, at an additional cost of $15 million, to build a four-lane bridge expandable to six lanes. Within a very short time, the extra two lanes were added.

Had they looked 10 years into the future, the bridge should have been six lanes expandable to eight, or if they had taken transportation seriously (and if you are planning a bridge you had better be serious about spending our tax dollars) the bridge ought to have been eight lanes expandable to 10. For $70 million dollars, we probably could have had a 12-lane bridge, but the government of the day was not committed to reducing gridlock. Now they are, right?

The new Pattullo Bridge is still being touted as a new four-lane bridge. Hello? Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena, are you listening? Three free-flow lanes from King George Boulevard, two free-flow lanes from Scott Road and one free-flow lane each direction from the new South Fraser Way /Highway 17. Highway 17 takes traffic from Tsawwassen, Victoria and the South Fraser Docks heading east , and it takes traffic from the Trans-Canada Highway via Highway 17 west. That would equal 12 lanes, and even at 12 lanes, we are not looking 20 to 40 years ahead.

The Granville Bridge was built in 1954 and it is eight lanes. They could have built a two- or four-lane bridge, but they planned ahead so as not to waste the taxpayer’s money. Your job, Claire Trevena, as minister is to govern; at times that means forcing mayors and councils with the NIMBY syndrome [to come] to the table [and] find solutions that affect gridlock while minimizing the effect these traffic increases will have on the community, for the over-all good of Greater Vancouver.

Build adequate structures that will serve us well for 40 to 75 years. Let’s not repeat the current $70 million Alex Fraser Band-Aid solution. It is needed, but it could as easily have been avoided.

Sven Stefanov, North Delta

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