Ex­tra traf­fic, crashes lead­ing to reg­u­lar de­lays on toll-free Port Mann Bridge

The Miracle - - Business - Source: News 1130

The Port Mann Bridge has seen its fair share of de­layssince tolls were lifted on Septem­ber 1st, and it’s not just the ex­tra traf­fic vol­ume. The cross­ing is han­dling an ex­tra 30-thou­sand trips per day, lead­ing to more sig­nif­i­cant ac­ci­dents and frus­tra­tions for driv­ers. Com­muters like Char­ity Long — who drives between Maple Ridge and Van­cou­ver — have seen the dif­fer­ence. “My com­mute into work is an ex­tra 25 min­utes a day and my com­mute home has been at least an ex­tra half hour,” she tells NEWS 1130, blam­ing more traf­fic and more ac­ci­dents since the tolls were elim­i­nated on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges. Long al­most wishes the prov­ince would start charg­ing driv­ers for cross­ing them again. “Ab­so­lutely, it’s ter­ri­ble,” she laughs. “It’s self­ish but I want those tolls back on.” Jen Coles in the NEWS 1130 Traf­fic Cen­tre re­ports on the Port Mann Bridge dur­ing the busy week­day com­mute and says the de­lays have no­tice­ably in­creased along High­way One over the past six weeks. “There are def­i­nitely more col­li­sions, more problems and more vol­ume. Ev­ery day we are see­ing an is­sue in that stretch between the Port Mann and the Iron Work­ers Memo­rial Cross­ing,” she says. “Now that we are into the fall we can see it is an in­crease in vol­ume and, in turn, an in­crease in problems. Peo­ple are not pay­ing at­ten­tion, they’re driv­ing too fast and not leav­ing enough time and room, caus­ing problems.” Coles says call­ers to 1130 have been frus­trated. “We went from a bridge that was not see­ing a lot of vol­ume, with a quick com­mute through the Burn­aby Lake stretch. When there was a prob­lem it didn’t cause much of a back up — we hadn’t seen a back up into Sur­rey since the tolls were put in,” she ex­plains. “When you re­move the tolls you get more vol­ume and more col­li­sions and now peo­ple are late for work and they’re try­ing to race, which is only adding to the problems on the high­way.” Those ad­di­tional problems are not sur­pris­ing to trans­porta­tion ex­pert Gor­don Price at Si­mon Fraser Univer­sity. “This is physics. Whether it’s atoms or au­to­mo­biles, if you in­crease the num­ber of units go­ing the same speed in the same space, I think a physi­cist can prob­a­bly work out ex­actly what you’re likely to see in the way of more col­li­sions,” he says. Price sug­gests the re­turn to longer de­lays on the Port Mann Bridge likely won’t change if the re­gion moves ahead with some form of road-pric­ing as a re­place­ment for in­di­vid­ual bridge tolls. “It re­ally isn’t rea­son­able or fair to think that tolling should only be on bridges, and cer­tainly not for only parts of the re­gion,” he adds. “But how you do it fairly across a whole re­gion in a way that all tran­sit users and driv­ers feel is fair — that’s the po­lit­i­cal chal­lenge.” Price ex­pects Metro Van­cou­ver and the prov­ince to move for­ward with some form of mo­bil­ity pric­ing — pay­ing for dis­tance trav­elled — as a re­place­ment for bridge tolls. “One way or the other, new tech­nolo­gies are go­ing to al­low us to prop­erly price the use of the road or any form of trans­porta­tion in a way that bet­ter re­flects what the real value is,” Price says. “Mak­ing the right choices is what the mo­bil­ity pric­ing com­mis­sion is look­ing at and ul­ti­mately what our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers are go­ing to have to de­cide on.” Mean­time, Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Claire Trevena says in­creased traf­fic across the Port Mann was ex­pected af­ter tolls were re­moved. “We re­moved tolls be­cause we wanted to make sure that peo­ple were be­ing treated eq­ui­tably, so that peo­ple liv­ing any­where in the Lower Main­land weren’t hav­ing to pay an un­fair charge to cross a bridge just be­cause of where they lived,” she ex­plains. “In that re­spect we’re see­ing a huge suc­cess, peo­ple have been clearly, clearly show­ing how much they have wanted to use th­ese bridges which in­deed has caused con­ges­tion.” Trevena ex­pects the con­ges­tion to bal­ance out over the next while. She adds a com­mis­sion put to­gether by the May­ors’ Coun­cil is look­ing at road pric­ing op­tions, and are ex­pected to sub­mit rec­om­men­da­tions next year. “When they do re­port that it’s some­thing we will look at but the is­sue of tolls was to deal with an eq­uity is­sue –the fact that cer­tain peo­ple liv­ing in cer­tain parts of the Lower Main­land were be­ing pe­nal­ized sim­ply be­cause of where they lived.” When asked about a pos­si­ble in­crease in the num­ber of col­li­sions, Trevena says the prov­ince is al­ways con­cerned about that is­sue, as well as how it may af­fect ICBC rates. She adds pro­vin­cial cam­paigns are try­ing to tar­get dis­tracted and dan­ger­ous driv­ers.

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