"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On second thought, NO

UPDATE: At its June 16 meeting, Coquitlam Council voted unanimously to, "Request the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to clarify their [sic] position publicly regarding a potential connection between the South Fraser Perimeter Road and Highway 1 at the Port Mann Bridge; and 2. Take no action on City of New Westminster's request to support a new connection between SFPR and Highway 1/Port Mann Bridge until the Province responds to Council's request; and 3. Direct staff to forward a copy of the council report [upon which recommendations 1 and 2 were based] to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, City of Surrey and City of New Westminster."
Significantly, that staff report concluded by declaring that an SFPR-Port Mann connection "does little to improve street connectivity in areas in the region where it is most needed....[and that the project] has little, if any merit..." In addition, both Mayor Richard Stewart and Councillor Brent Asmundson said that the presentation made to council last week by the visiting New West politician was very misleading. I agree.

There's a story in today's Tri-Cities Now about a visit to Council on Monday by a delegation from the City of New Westminster. The story notes that the delegation asked for Coquitlam's support of New West's bid to push for a direct connection from the new South Fraser Perimeter Road to the Port Mann Bridge at a cost of up to $400 million.
South Fraser Perimeter Road (green), with current access points (blue).
Currently, the SFPR runs under the bridge but does not connect to it. New West would like the connectiion added, though, because it believes such a link would reduce traffic travelling across the Pattullo Bridge.
The New West delegation provided us with some seemingly common-sense arguments favouring the connection, and so New West's presentation ended with a feeling that Coquitlam would support the Royal City. There was no formal declaration or motion to that effect, though. 
And that turned out to be a good thing because, shortly after the crew from New West left the building, our staff started doing some digging and came up with a 2013 study, that was conducted by the Delcan group for the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, in response to New West's belated push for an SFPR-Port Mann connection. Significantly, that study painted an entirely different picture from that sketched by the New West delegation.
Here are some key quotations from Delcan's 2013 study:
1.1 Background  
A study conducted in 2001 (South Fraser Perimeter Road Planning and Preliminary Design Study - Associated Engineering) examined the feasibility of a connection between the South Fraser Perimeter Road and Highway 1 at 152 Street as an alternate to the connection at 176 Street / Highway 15.  The study concluded that such a connection to Highway 1 at 152 Street was not preferred due to the serious community severance impacts, significant community displacement issues, traffic capacity and operational shortfalls, noise impacts, as well as others issues.  
With the nearly completed construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road, the City of New Westminster has questioned if providing a direct connection between the South Fraser Perimeter Road and Highway 1 at the Port Mann Bridge could divert traffic away from the Pattullo or Alex Fraser Bridges.  The City of New Westminster has thus requested the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to re-examine the feasibility of this connection.  ...

The study then re-evaluated the information and came to the same conclusions as the 2001 study had: 

....In summary, providing a connection between the SFPR and Highway 1 at the Port Mann Bridge involves high implementation costs, significant community impacts, and only results in minor diversion from the Pattullo Bridge.  Furthermore, a significantly low benefit cost ratio of 0.25 indicates that the proposed connection would yield no value to the region. 

In short, this study completely rejected New West's idea. With this information now in hand, I feel that Coquitlam Council should not write a letter or pass a motion in support of New West's bid to add what would be a costly, disruptive and, ultimately, almost-useless connection. 

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