Delta mayor Lois Jackson joins Surrey in call for regional tolling plan

Mayor calls for equitable tolling strategy for the Metro Vancouver region at $1 per bridge across the board

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson.

DELTA — A regional tolling strategy has been on Surrey’s agenda for years – and Delta has now joined the party.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson released a statement Tuesday calling for an equitable strategy. She wants the province to take a hard look at such a plan and wants to see rates of $1 across the board throughout the region, far lower than the current $3.15 per crossing for small vehicles on the Port Mann Bridege.

Since tolling of the Port Mann began, Jackson says drivers have been using the Alex Fraser to bypass it. And construction on the Pattullo Bridge has added to that congestion, she noted, saying the bridge experiences “frequent gridlock.”

If the Pattullo replacement is tolled, it will mean the Alex Fraser is the only free crossing available to Surrey and Delta commuters.

Meanwhile, Surrey recently decided to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with New Westminster and TransLink for a four-lane, Pattullo Bridge replacement. They agreed the new bridge would be tolled – at least for now.

“The agreement is kind of a housekeeping document in terms of moving forward,” said Surrey Coun. Tom Gill of the MOU, noting there are tight timelines to hit after TransLink learned last October the replacement was screened in for the federal P3 Canada Fund. TransLink must have a business case in by the end of the month.

“So I’m not in favour of tolling it,” Gill stressed, “but that being said I do appreciate there’s going to have to be a road mobility pricing plan introduced.”

The Mayors’ Council, along with TransLink, began the development of a regional mobility pricing plan in late 2015.

Surrey hopes such a plan is implemented before the completion of the Pattullo replacement. Tolling that structure would leave the Alex Fraser as the only untolled bridge for Surrey and Delta residents.

“I do have difficulty with just the bridges south of the Fraser being tolled,” said Gill.

Surrey Board of Trade has also called for a regional tolling strategy.

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com