Friday, May 4, 2012

The Port and the Pattullo

An interesting piece from Gordon Price.

In this article, Gordon points to the huge influence that Port Metro Vancouver has on the region's transportation planning. The Port's business model is rooted moving goods, mostly by truck (not water, the name "port" nothwithstanding!), between a growing number of distribution warehouses. The Port is allowed to take land out of the ALR to build more warehouses (which, once out of the ALR, can then be resold to developers). The Port is also a huge driver to road expansion - the South Fraser Perimeter Road is under construction in large part to accomodate port-bound truck traffic. The Port is therefore a huge beneficiary of our tax dollars. Taxpayers are funding the Port's expansion plans to a large degree, in exchange for...umm...what exactly? Oh yeah, jobs. I think.

The Pattullo Bridge is (unofficially) part of this network. TransLink's 6-lane bridge option is meant to "increase the safety" for trucks, and the new 6-laner will accomodate a doubling of truck traffic through our City. These trucks are not bound for New Westminster. They go through New West to get from the SFPR to warehouses in Coquitlam and beyond. So, New West is being asked to enable and accomodate Port expansion by taking a 6-lane Pattullo.

The Port says things like "eliminating bottlenecks and improving roads and road safety for trade and community traffic alike is a Port priority."  Uh-huh. Like, it's been demonstrated over and over that widening roads leads to reduced congestion. Right??? Yeah. That's why Toronto's 401 is so...uncongested.

There is an alternative. If we stop stop accomodating (effectively subsidizing) the Port's truck traffic, they will have to seek alternative means to transport the goods. There's always the river and the trains. Yep, maybe more expensive, but they're getting a pretty cheap deal right now by making taxpayers foot the bill for all their externalities.


  1. Hello there - thanks for your enlightening post on the Pattullo's relation to the Port and how New Westminster fits into it all. You'll be very interested in a community forum that Daniel Fontaine and I are organizing for June 6 at the River Market on the topic of what we can do with the existing Pattullo Bridge. We're thinking outside of the box here - could we turn it into a pedestrian/bicycle bridge?

    More information here - - please do come!

  2. Yes, I have heard of this forum. I will probably attend.

    However, I must say that the impression given by the title of the forum is that the discussion will center around "what to do with the old bridge **given that there will be a new one**".

    Unfortunately I think that such a discussion is a waste of time, because there is no money for maintaining 2 bridges.