by Greg Hoover
Last Tuesday evening the Gateway Program held an open house in Tsawwassen to get public opinion on its revised North Option and the South Option for the South Fraser Perimeter Road as it skirts East Ladner.
Judging by conversations with the folks that attended, the residents of Delta were not impressed. The room full of consultants knew how to build a road, but they didn't know much about South Delta, and they didn't understand what the local traffic issues really are.
Another Gateway open house is scheduled for this Saturday,
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Holly elementary in East Ladner. We will be there again to show people the option of Hoover/Naas.
Last Saturday in this column I neglected to mention two other proposals we have to improve traffic at the Massey "Funnel." We have suggested the weigh scale in the southbound lane be closed and removed entirely, which would eliminate slow moving trucks having to merge into speeding traffic at the entrance to the tunnel.
We have also suggested the complete removal of the Richmond information kiosk in the northbound lane, turning that space into ample waiting lanes for traffic trying to exit at Steveston Highway.
There has been much discussion about providing improved entrance and exit roads for the Tilbury industrial area, which the South Fraser Perimeter Road does offer, and the Hoover/Naas proposal does not.
We have suggested that improving what exists, rather than spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars to push a four-lane highway through the north edge of Burns Bog, could correct the reasons for traffic congestion in Tilbury.
If the interchange at Sunbury Cedar was made into a real intersection, like the one proposed by Gateway at that location linking to Nordel, and the outdated overpasses at highways 17 and 99 were reworked, and all of River Road was made four lanes between them, then the situation would be made tolerable.
Again, the fix would be faster, cheaper and much more environmentally friendly. Rather than using more good land for a big highway, leave it as farmland or land to be developed industrially to increase the tax base.
The port says many of its trucks need better access into Tilbury. What we would like to know is: How many of those trucks are carrying empty boxes? There might be an argument if the industry in Tilbury needed this volume of container deliveries for product, but if it's just to stack empty boxes or park trucks overnight, then we think another method and location should be found.
On the topic of fixing what we've got, are the people of South Delta aware the province is currently upgrading Highway 10 to a modern four-lane road? Are they also aware this upgrade runs all the way from Langley through Surrey and stops at Scott Road?
That's right, Delta gets to keep Highway 10 as is, a 70-year-old ox trail that we all use and need, and the government wants to give us a new four-lane highway to North Surrey and Maple Ridge?
More good planning!
We will not even attempt to answer all the questions that result from proposing to put a major highway through the north edge of Burns Bog, but we will offer this: Reports written by knowledgeable people indicate the connection between the bog and the Fraser River is the most important aspect of the long-term viability of Burns Bog.
Animals need to migrate between them and, most importantly, groundwater exchange below grade must be maintained to sustain the very life of the peat in this bog.
Building another major highway structure between the bog and the Fraser only compounds the possibility of irreversible damage to this unique environmental area.
Why, after so much time, effort and money to save it, would we build the South Fraser Perimeter Road in this location when there are other options, and the real possibility exists of damaging or killing Burns Bog.
To get traffic out of Tilbury faster is not an adequate answer and Gateway should know that.
Next time: North Delta and Delta's farmland.
published on 05/10/2006