We don't want to rain on Mary Polak's parade, as she rolls onto the Port Mann Bridge today, symbolically driving in a 1964 car that was built around about the time that the bridge was being completed the first time.
It's nice that we'll all have an opportunity to revel in the new bridge's entry into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's widest bridge - and we appreciate that freshly minted Transportation Minister Polak will personally confirm the bridge's width, to ensure that there are no embarrassing gaffs if it were to be discovered after the fact that the bridge was, after all, the centre of another error in judgment-
Did we say "another"? Let's first consider the judgment call that gave birth to the "Gateway" idea of spending a few billions of dollars on a bridge to effect traffic relief that could have been accomplished at a third of the price through a properly planned transit system, perhaps followed (not preceded) by a much more modest bridge concept.
Instead, even the band-aid "Rapid Bus" system promised Langley has been shut down for a lack of funding that amounts to about a thousandth the cost of a bridge.
The traffic relief offered by the new, world-record-wide Port Mann Bridge will be temporary, as the increased capacity will inevitably - and ironically - spur still more personal-vehicle traffic that will certainly clog the arteries back up in just a few short years.
And then there's the matter of tolls. There will have been a lot of sighs of relief from commuters south of the Fraser River when they heard that the Port Mann tolls would start at only $1.50 per crossing.
There's probably still some bated breaths on the north end of the cheaper-to-build, yet costlier to cross Golden Ears Bridge, however, while they wait to see how it will all impact traffic between and through Langley, Maple Ridge, and Pitt Meadows.
And we'll all wistfully wonder why all British Columbians get to pay for all of the bridges throughout the province- but a select few of us get to pay a lot more.
Minister Polak better hang on to her hat as she rides onto that bridge today. She's in for quite a ride.
@ Copyright 2013