Editor, The News:
Re: Bridge still ‘underperforming’ (The News, Oct. 2).
I enjoyed reading reporter Phil Melnychuk’s article outlining the need to subsidize the Golden Ears Bridge by $30-$40 million dollars for the next few years – 30 times the proposed subsidy to maintain a reduced, free crossing at Albion.
A more appropriate headline, however, would have read, ‘Past incompetence returns to haunt TransLink’s Golden Ears Bridge.’
I was active in trying to maintain the Albion Ferry service to complement the new bridge, and attended almost every public meeting and made several presentations to both the TransLink board and to Maple Ridge council. No one, it seemed, was using common sense. Everyone just ecstatic that finally a bridge was being built, regardless of the faulty assumptions that were being made, and, as far as Maple Ridge taxpayers were concerned, the blatant disregard for reality.
At the time, the toll-free Albion Ferry was transporting approximately 4,000 vehicles per day, and by our statistics, more than 90 of our clients were living or heading to areas east of 230 Street – a fact that suggested a good portion would choose the free Mission crossing versus fighting the congestion getting to the tolled Golden Ears Bridge.
The new tolled bridge was, according to TransLink, going to carry 30,000 vehicles a day. Where were all these users going to come from?
TransLink maintained that over 80 per cent of the users of the Pitt River Bridge were actually on their way to Surrey, thus their position that a new Pitt bridge was unnecessary, as the new Golden Ears Bridge would totally eliminate the congestion.
Thank goodness the province and federal government decided to build a new Pitt bridge.
The original budget for the Golden Ears project was approximately $800 million for the bridge and approaches. Based on this, the toll was set around $2.95. The actual cost of the project came in north of $1.1 billion, with no required change to the toll; the official word, even after the announcement that a new Port Mann Bridge would also be built, reducing the demand for the Golden Ears Bridge, was, “there is no concern, we will be on budget”.
While the Langley side received an extensive four-lane highway system, connecting both to the north arterial route and to Highway 1, Maple Ridge received a couple of miles of road ending abruptly into a narrow two-lane backstreet. I tried to suggest that Maple Ridge should be demanding a four-lane extension of Abernethy Way up to at least 232nd Street, but no one was listening. TransLink maintained that there would be little east-west travel, that the new bridge would handle only north-south commuters living in central Maple Ridge and Langley. I could only shake my head in disbelief. Their assumption required almost a quarter of our entire population to utilize the bridge daily.
In addition, I tried to assert that the Harris Road intersection would be a major congestion point and, therefore, should be remedied, somehow, as if it wasn’t the congestion would limit demand from growing from areas west of Pitt Meadows. Again I was ignored.
The brain trusts at TransLink knew better, and, after all, I was just a captain on a soon-to-be-disposed Albion Ferry.
Many of those ‘brain trusts’ are still in high position in TransLink. Where is the accountability?