Stone sure beats coal

It was a week before Christmas and all through the region mayors were grumbling that Delta was getting a Stone instead of its usual lump of coal.

When Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced last week that a $3.5-billion bridge would replace the George Massey Tunnel, it was an early, but not unexpected, Christmas gift. Stone merely confirmed what the premier had announced three years earlier, but he was able to provide greater detail on what will be the longest bridge in the province's history. With construction scheduled to start just over a year from now, we will soon see tangible proof that a new river crossing isn't just a dream.

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During this season of goodwill to men you'd think politicians from throughout the region would be happy for us out here in Delta, overjoyed that Victoria is finally addressing what has been called the province's biggest traffic bottleneck. Well, you'd be wrong. Several mayors, none of whom commute through the tunnel on a daily basis, have been outspoken in their criticism of the project, saying the money would be better spent elsewhere in the battle to address traffic congestion. Coincidentally, those more deserving projects just happen to be in their jurisdictions.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner thinks the money should be put toward priorities identified during this year's ill-fated plebiscite, which - surprise, surprise - included light rail for Surrey as one of its big ticket items. I guess a SkyTrain extension, a new Port Mann Bridge and the South Fraser Perimeter Road aren't enough.

Vancouver's Gregor Robertson, Richmond's Malcolm Brodie and other mayors have also questioned the expenditure.

It's one crossing so, no, it won't solve the region's traffic woes, but it's selfish in the extreme to suggest commuters in these parts make do with the antiquated tube for the foreseeable future while our tax dollars continue to be spent on projects elsewhere in the Lower Mainland.

Our mayor, Lois Jackson, is bang on when she says it's Delta's turn.

The new crossing is a gift we won't be able to unwrap for another seven gridlock-filled years, but it's nice to know Santa didn't forget about us this time.

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