The Gateway Project is the most environmentally threatening freeway mega-project in British Columbia's history. It WILL affect our region's air quality and make global warming worse. And it WON'T reduce traffic congestion.
The Gateway Program is a massive 1950s style freeway expansion scheme. It was originally spearheaded by former Premier Gordon Campbell and former Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and is continuing under Premier Clark’s new Transportation Minister, Blair Lekstrom.
Key points of the scheme are:
- Expansion of Highway 1 to eight+ lanes between Langley and East Vancouver including the construction of an new 10+ lane Port Mann Bridge at a cost of $3.1 billion. (About 60% completed in spring 2011)
- Construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road freeway through Delta, and Surrey at a cost of $1.2 to $2 billion. (Some preliminary work including logging and preloading has started)
- Construction of the North Fraser Perimeter Road through New Westminster at a cost as high as $1 billion. (Cancelled in May 2011 after strong community opposition).
- Replacing the four-lane Pattullo Bridge with a 6 to 8 lane replacement linking the North and South Perimeter Roads at a cost of about $1 billion. (Status uncertain due to defeat of NFPR).
- Twinning the George Massey tunnel and widening Highway 99 (Abandoned in favour of shoulder bus lanes)
- Numerous associated road widenings throughout the region.
- A related project is the massive enlargement of the Delta coal and container port planned by federal agencies as part of their “Pacific Gateway Initiative”.
Gateway has found its most vocal opposition south of the Fraser, where residents are outraged by the threatened expropriation of our most fertile farmland and the tragic impact of highway-building and port expansion on the rare ecosystems of Burns Bog and the Fraser estuary, including the orca pods of the Georgia Straight. In a public opinion poll 69% of Lower Mainland residents said they would like to see money currently designated for highway construction to be re-directed to public transit in light of concerns about global warming.
The project is being touted as a "solution to traffic congestion," although every traffic planner knows there is NO evidence to support this approach. All evidence shows that you can’t build your way out of congestion.
The Gateway Project a bad deal all around. But it's NOT a "done deal."
People have stopped many freeway mega projects in the past, including the 1960s proposal to demolish much of Chinatown and Strathcona for a massive freeway into Downtown Vancouver and a third crossing to the North Shore. Public pressure combined with a budget squeeze has already resulted in some elements of Gateway being cancelled or put on hold, such as the twinning of the Massey Tunnel and the first stage of the North Fraser Perimeter Road through New Westminster.
Other communities around the world are also succeeding in stopping freeway schemes. For example, in early 2011 public opposition and a budget squeeze forced the Conservative government of New Brunswick to abandon their Gateway freeway project despite having signed a construction contract.