The size of the planned bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel is the first thing that jumps out at you. Ten lanes! Not to mention 24 kilometres of widened highways, onramps, and so forth.
Does the aging four-lane tunnel need replacement? Yes. It’s been a bottleneck for decades. But the massive and car-centric plan for yet another toll bridge shows that the provincial Liberals are still stuck in an old model of transit planning.
One thing they’re clearly not considering is demographics in the suburbs, particularly fast-growing areas like Surrey, Coquitlam, Abbotsford, and, yes, Langley.
Vancouver is growing, but slowly. Surrey and its immediate neighbours are growing like dandelions, as we’re fed the fertilizer of (relatively) cheap land and low interest rates.
From the early part of the century to the 1980s, it made sense to think of the Lower Mainland as one big city (Vancouver) and feeder communities that sent in workers and shoppers and day trippers.
That is no longer the case. Surrey will eventually overtake Vancouver in terms of population. Density is increasing in the former suburbs.
TransLink does recognize that its job is increasingly to build a network of connections between a scattering of neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, they don’t have the money to do that job properly.
A 10-lane bridge, on a highway that feeds straight towards Vancouver, doesn’t work towards that goal. A new bridge or tunnel? Yes, it’s needed. But we also need more transit, rapid and otherwise, and upgrades on a host of roads and highways across the region. Megaprojects may be a fun backdrop for photos, but they don’t deal with our current reality.