The freeway islands, Langley, British Columbia

Commercial development, right, is surrounded by components of the 200th Street Interchange

Commercial development, right, is surrounded by components of the 200th Street Interchange

In 1999 or thereabouts, the British Columbia government and Langley Township agreed to locate commercial development within a new Highway 1 interchange at 200th Street, replacing a crumbling structure from the Diefenbaker era. Interchange traffic would be controlled by several sets of traffic signals, a departure from freer-flowing design traditions. Continue reading

Traffic off the North Shore

Lions Gate Bridge, Saturday morning

Lions Gate Bridge, Saturday morning

If North Vancouver continues to grow at the current rate, the bridges into the City of Vancouver will lock up altogether and people will have to SWIM to work, navigating the oil tankers and seaplanes….

At least, this is what “Ed” suggested recently in an anonymous note to Fraseropolis.  Whether Ed is real or not, the idea that the North Shore of the Burrard Inlet has reached capacity recurs in debates over the pace of development in the Central and Lower Lonsdale communities. “There’s no room for more people on the North Shore: the bridges are already jammed!” Continue reading

Port Mann Bridge: The case of the disappearing traffic

Part of the Port Mann Bridge; graphic from the current TI Corp service plan

Part of the Port Mann Bridge; graphic from the current TI Corp service plan

The British Columbia government now predicts heavier short-term financial losses on the Port Mann toll bridge than previously forecast, although it maintains the position that user tolls will eventually pay all costs related to the reconstructed bridge.

The issue here is declining traffic volumes — a pattern of decline that began long before tolls were implemented in 2012. Weekday traffic on the bridge, the primary access point to Vancouver from the rest of Canada, is down an astonishing 20 per cent from the peak levels of 2006. Continue reading

We would need many more freeways

Architectural detail, Nakagin capsule tower (Tokyo, 1972) from Ignant.de

Architectural detail, Nakagin capsule tower (Tokyo, 1972) from Ignant.de

Combine two assumptions — further population growth in Metro Vancouver and continued vehicle use at the current rate — and the result is a big mess of trouble.

Blogger Gordon Price has flagged a recent mini-lecture/video by Matt Taylor, who considers the effects on Metro Vancouver of having 730,000 additional cars on the road by 2041. This number is derived from the crude multiplier of forecast population growth times current vehicle miles driven per capita.

We would need to invest the equivalent of one rapid transit project per year to handle the additional traffic plus many billions of dollars for new parking spaces.

The proposition is ridiculous, of course. Mr. Taylor is campaigning for rapid transit as a better alternative.

Driving is risky; walking, even more

Poco 1

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s most recent crash statistics attracted scant notice from the media, despite the finding that 281 people died in automobile-related crashes in B.C. in 2012. This is in a population that carries 3.2 million operating licenses.

From 2008 through 2012, we lost an average of 331 people per year to traffic fatalities, the equivalent of having a packed airliner fly into Burnaby Mountain every Christmas Eve. This is an urgent matter for British Columbians, and for local governments in particular; but we tend to devote our attention to slighter issues, such as the unproven risks attached to the blips emitted by the electric company’s metering equipment. Continue reading

Tolls and the decline of driving

Golden Ears Bridge reducedMetro Vancouver’s transportation authority has created a stir with the disclosure that tolling revenues on the Golden Ears Bridge, which have been below expectations since the bridge opened in 2009, are falling even further behind. After hopeful signs in 2012, the public subsidy on the bridge is going up, not down.

This is significant because the Golden Ears is the first modern-era toll bridge in urban British Columbia. The bridge was supposed to introduce a user-pay system for the funding of roads and bridges. Continue reading