This is really incredible:
The provincial government now intends to go it alone, spending $3.1 billion to erect a new 10-lane bridge and widen the road on either end.
What other transportation infrastructure, they asked, could we instead have for $3.1 billion?
By the time Prof. Patrick Condon and researcher Kari Dow at the UBC Design Centre for Sustainability finished punching in the numbers and mapped their results, they produced a startling alternative vision. For the same money, concluded the team, the government could finance a 200-kilometre light rail network that would place a modern, European-style tram within a 10-minute walk for 80 per cent of all residents in Surrey, White Rock, Langley and the Scott Road district of Delta, while providing a rail connection from Surrey to the new Evergreen line and connecting Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge into the regional rail system.
This is what our reliance on the Single Occupancy Vehicle has done to us. We (myself included) have been conditioned to think that our one-person cars are the ideal. So instead of investing in mass transit that would benefit all whether they owned a vehicle or not, we spend gigantic amounts of money to replace aging infrastructure that is under stress from the amount of traffic we demand of it.
Now that’s not to say that we shouldn’t replace bridges and things that are in need of renovation or replacement. But clearly rather than expanding these modes of transportation which only further encourage greater volume and gridlock and increased CO2 emissions, we could be building a vast metropolitan network that would actually bring Vancouver into the 21st Century.
Compared to the 200 km grid of light rail, the Port Mann Bridge, including approach spans, is a mere 2,093 metres long, though the entire project actually extends 37 km and includes widening Highway 1, adding two lanes each way on the east side of the bridge and an extra lane in both directions on the west side.
Dow and Condon factored in the cost of tearing down the original Port Mann Bridge and erecting a brand new one, as current plans dictate. They based their comparative figures on proven costs per kilometre for building a type of high-speed light rail tram widely used in places like Alicante, Spain; Budapest, Hungary; and Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Much the same can be said for projects like the $32 Million Langford Interchange in Victoria. For the same price as this one “cloverleaf” to Bear Mountain which, thanks to the economic crisis, has ground to a halt in terms of further house/condo building, we could have completely upgraded the nearly 40KM stretch of railway from Parksville to Port Alberni.(Investment Casebook-PDF) Or upgraded the Cowichan to Victoria portion and put in a commuter service to relieve the stress on the Malahat.
Especially in these times of economic hardship, why aren’t we looking for ways to get the most for our money?