Wednesday, October 24, 2007

GMBC in North Shore Outlook

Our very own Sheri Wiens spoke to the North Shore Outlook newspaper on regional bridge issues:
A new report from a transportation advocacy group suggests that commuters who use the Second Narrows and Lions Gate bridges experience less gridlock than many of the commuters on other Lower Mainland bridges.

In their report, A Comparison of Bridge Capacity - Metro Portland Vs. the Lower Mainland, Get Moving B.C. argues traffic congestion could be solved by building more bridges.

They're calling for the government to fast-track the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, replace the Massey Tunnel with a higher capacity bridge and build a completely new crossing for the Fraser River somewhere west of the Port Mann Bridge. But nowhere in the report do they mention North Shore crossings.

"As much as we would love to address all the bridges I think that you have to pick the top ones that are the most gridlocked and where the population is most growing,"€ said Sheri Wiens, spokesperson for the group. "The North Shore (bridges do) need more lanes. I've gone from downtown to the North Shore many times and I know what it's like."

Traffic has actually decreased on both bridges during the morning commute off the North Shore, according to Translink communications director Ken Hardie.

From 1996 to 2004 inbound morning traffic (from the North Shore to Vancouver) decreased 4.5 per cent. Outbound traffic, however, increased by 9.4 per cent. The numbers are similar for afternoon peak traffic hours: vehicles travelling from the North Shore to Vancouver increased 10.7 per cent while the opposite direction saw an increase of only 0.4 per cent.

"Generally speaking, there'€™s a couple of things that factor in here. The Liveable Region Strategic Plan does not forecast a great increase (in population) on the North Shore. The North Shore isn't designated as a growing area," said Hardie, explaining why more or expanded bridges aren'€™t an option for the North Shore.

However, he adds, Translink will have a third SeaBus in place by 2009 and this should help with existing congestion.

The bridge capacity report backed up the call for improved and additional bridges by comparing the Lower Mainland'€™s road infrastructure to Portland.

That city has a population about half the size of the Lower Mainland and 75 per cent more bridge capacity. Even though the North Shore bridges aren't the cause of the biggest commuter headaches, Wiens said no matter where you are in the Lower Mainland you're going to get stuck in traffic and that's never fun.

"Anybody that commutes doesn'€™t have it great,"€ she said. "It's hard all around."


At October 24, 2007 12:30 PM , Sacha said...

The limiting factor for the Second Narrows Bridge (northbound) is the number of lanes on the upper levels highway (i.e. Highway 1 north of the second narrows). This is unlikely to change. They do have enough right-of-way to expand it, however.

After Gateway, southbound traffic should flow somewhat more smoothly as the Cassiar connector tunnel was built for 3 lanes in each direction. The southbound bottleneck will likely be around the interchange at Main St.

The Lion's Gate Bridge got its new "paint job" (lane widening) late last decade and I doubt the government is willing to explore capital expenditures in that direction. The bridge could use another lane but it would have required a whole new bridge.

Exploring either option (and a new bridge/tunnel between the two is totally out of the question from both a cost and engineering perspective) is going to take a ton of money, when the best return on investment is clearly elsewhere. Unfortunately, it looks like North Van is going to be out of the transportation equation. I feel for them, however... they pay their tax dollars and they will be getting little for it other than lip service.

At October 24, 2007 1:37 PM , Anonymous said...

I've seen long term plans for reconfiguring the ramps at the north end of the bridge.

What isn't mentioned here is PM southbound traffic, a truck driving buddy makes the trip to Pemberton 3 times a week, he's often delayed on his afternoon return by backups that can reach all the way to Westview


Post a Comment

<< Home