Monday’s closure of the Alex Fraser Bridge is another example that we are headed in the wrong direction towards a new tunnel.
The circumstance was terrible. A police incident closed the southbound lanes of the bridge, and everyone was pointed in the other direction to the tunnel. In this case the closure was entirely necessary as the police looked after the situation. Fortunately, the incident was safely resolved.
For me, so what. I was a little late, but safely arrived at my destination. There were much more important things to look after than a little inconvenience on my end.
When any one of the crossings gets closed or seriously held up, it creates gridlock around the Fraser. Same thing with the North Shore – one pothole on the Second Narrows and you can count on at least an hour or more for a trip that usually takes five minutes. I was stuck in that one as well.
As the Metro Vancouver area grows, this will happen more often. We hear about higher immigration levels, but there’s also non-permanent residents and interprovincial migration that affect how many people live and work here. It’s no wonder we have more and worsening traffic, high housing prices and trouble finding affordable places to rent.
So why are we trying to solve traffic issues with the same legacy systems? Making an eight-lane tunnel (but really only six lanes, with a dedicated transit lane) doesn’t solve the problem – we have three lanes at rush hour now, and it’s still backed up. One problem, a bad accident or breakdown, and it is gridlock again. And a four-lane Pattullo Bridge makes no sense to me. Yes, it will be much safer, but will it solve the bigger problem, that being what will traffic look like in 10 or 20 or 50 years with the growth planned for the area?
I would think that another crossing would be a much better option than disrupting traffic horribly for the next six years of construction. And heaven help us should something go wrong with the current tunnel while the new one is being built. A third crossing has been proposed but rejected, but it seems to be more of a political issue than a practical one.
I’m not a traffic planner or civil engineer. There may be good reasons for this approach, but I don’t see it.
After all, I’m just a guy stuck in traffic. Again.
Brad Sherwin, MBA is a long-time resident of South Delta, and has over 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He teaches post-secondary marketing, coaches hockey goalies and is Past President of Deltassist.