It cost millions. It’s yours to be used for free. (Map here.)
What happens when the pylons come down on Highway 1 where, as part of the $3 billion Gateway Project, there’s suddenly all this new free road space?
My guess: the mental geography of the Fraser Valley changes. With much less congestion on Highway 1, people will start to use it to get quickly between the interchanges from 200th Street to 152nd.
The Guildford Shopping Centre, not a kilometre away from Highway 1 is expanding to accommodate the rush.
The dilemma for Surrey is that the cars may not stop at 152nd and 104th; they may continue onto the Surrey grid – which is where the real problems with congestion occur.
North Surrey auto grid: the yellow lines representing the arterial roads are spaced a mile apart, with the occasional break or angular highway. Their intersections are weak points.
It’s not likely that congestion will rebuild on Highway 1 – and certainly not the Port Mann Bridge, which, at 10 lanes, some think might be the widest bridge in the world – before the arterials which serve the car-dependent municipalities south of the Fraser begin to see worsened congestion where their arterials cross.
Example: 88th Avenue and King George Boulevard is already one of the worst in the province. What happens to intersections like 108th and King George (below, map here) when drivers divert to the Pattullo Bridge to avoid the tolls?
108th Avenue and King George Boulvard, on the way to Pattullo Bridge.
The problem is that there’s no other choice for drivers. If, for instance, they were able to park at Guildford and then take transit to Surrey City Centre on the light rail line proposed for 104th Avenue, easlily connecting to SkyTrain and other rapid-transit or BRT lines down King George and the Fraser Highway, then they could realistically consider making another choice and avoid the arterial grid. But there’s no realistic choice to make – and there’s not likely to be for years to come.
So, billions of dollars later, they remain auto captive and still caught in congestion. Just not on the Port Mann Bridge and Highway 1.
Gordon Price is the Director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University. He sat for six terms as City Councillor in Vancouver, BC and also served on the Boards of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (Metro) and TransLink. He publishes an electronic magazine and blog on urban issues, with a focus on Vancouver, called “Price Tags” – www.pricetags.ca as well as www.pricetags.wordpress.com He has written several extensive essays on Vancouver and transportation issues – The Deceptive City, Local Politician’s Guide to Urban Transportation – and in 2003, he received the Plan Canada Award for Article of the Year – “Land Use and Transportation: The View from ’56” – from the Canadian Institute of Planners.