Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Langley Times: We need it all

Good on the Langley Times for reinforcing the need for common sense in present debate on transportation:
Rumours abound that the NDP is ready to oppose the Gateway Program, and in particular the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge.

The issue apparently came up at the NDP Provincial Council meeting Saturday, and sources say that the governing arm of the party supported a motion opposing Gateway.

No one from the elected caucus has substantiated that rumour yet. That’s not surprising, because such a move would hurt the NDP in a couple of areas where it is strong — Surrey, and possibly Coquitlam.

Gateway is popular with people who live near the Port Mann Bridge because they see firsthand how bad the problem is. The bridge is congested day and night. Transport trucks are stuck for hours trying to get through traffic, and commuters who use the bridge, often to get between Surrey or Langley and Coquitlam or Maple Ridge, have no options but driving.

The provincial Gateway Program is not perfect, but it is a far better option than doing nothing, which is what most of the opponents are effectively suggesting. Many claim that they want to see transit on the bridge, but without any type of guaranteed HOV-type lane, transit buses will be stuck in traffic with all other vehicles.

There is no room to add a sixth lane to the bridge, which would allow HOV to operate in both directions. Turning one westbound lane into an HOV lane and restricting all other traffic to one lane would lead to immediate lineups from Abbotsford west.

Gateway opponents fail to realize that most of the growth in the Lower Mainland is taking place in four cities — Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley Township and Abbotsford. Former premier (and NDP leader) Mike Harcourt recognizes this and is now helping these cities fight for more infrastructure.

It’s too bad his fellow NDPers who sit on the provincial council can’t take such a broad perspective.

Gateway is needed. At the same time, there must be a strong effort made to offer rapid transit from Coquitlam with the Evergreen Line, and on the south side of the Fraser.

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