The Port Mann Mess

Pete McMartin has offered another masterfully lopsided argument!

It would be hypocritical of us “southsiders” to complain about the Port Mann toll if we had asked for a toll bridge earlier. But we hadn’t. We wanted the same deal everyone else was receiving, including the drivers of the new Sea-to-Sky highway, Pitt River bridge and Park Bridge near Golden: a bridge free of tolls and paid for out of general revenue. This would seem fair since the Port Mann is one of the most important regional crossings in BC, and one that is vital to Vancouver’s economy and the province in general. Moreover, southsiders have paid equally for all of those other toll-free edifices, so why not return the favour? [However, it would be hypocritical if we voted for BC Liberal candidates south of the Fraser and supported their tax-cutting agenda, and therefore undermined the ability of a government to pay for the bridge out of general revenue.]

McMartin’s either-or approach masks another reality: we need more driving lanes AND better public transit. Just one is simply not sufficient. The urban types seem to forget (or perhaps have never understood) how the Port Mann is a vital commercial link as well as a key regional and provincial artery. Most of this traffic simply can’t use public transit, and to wish otherwise is profoundly childish.

That being said, I wish the government had kept the current bridge, which by all accounts is still in good shape, and had twinned it. The money saved would have lowered overall costs, and helped pay for the Port Mann transit link (bus or rail) that is most certainly part of the transit solution for the Lower Mainland.

Some final thoughts: It would be fascinating to see the choices the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster would have to make if Surrey and Langley pulled out of TransLink. This I believe would be the ideal  solution for those of us south of the Fraser. Not one penny more for Vancouver projects! No more lopsided contributions which the hipsters on Granville (or Main) take for granted!

And in terms of shopping, entertainment, and travel, the world north of the Fraser is becoming increasingly irrelevant anyway. Perhaps a transit divorce would make things more respectful.

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