The provincial government’s claim that the Port Mann Bridge–Highway 1 corridor is congested for more than half the day—a major justification for the Gateway highway-expansion program—is way over the top, according to one Surrey resident.
Kevin Purton, a member of Surrey Environmental Partners, a community-based group, noted that the program’s Web site states that traffic congestion lasts for 13 hours each day. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon has been quoted as saying the Port Mann is congested 14 hours a day.
Purton said he took a series of photos of traffic on Highway 1 near the bridge on 21 days in January and February.
“During the middle of the day, the traffic is most of the time fairly light and uncongested, and contradicts what Minister Falcon says,” Purton told the Straight. “The figures and information that make it favourable to twinning the bridge are being exaggerated.”
Purton acknowledged that traffic is backed up during the traditional rush hours, but he asserted that daily congestion lasts seven hours at most.
Falcon wasn’t available for comment, but transportation ministry spokesperson David Crebo told the Straight that the 13-hour congestion figure is based on the ministry’s assessment of traffic volumes. “They take average weekday hourly traffic volumes on the bridge, and from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. is the time where those traffic counts show what’s considered congestion,” Crebo explained.
Garland Chow, an associate professor at UBC’s Centre for Transportation Studies, pointed out that congestion occurs when a vehicle cannot travel at the posted speed limit.
Chow looked at the traffic chart posted on the Gateway Web site and told the Straight, referring to the 13-hour congestion claim, that it is “not unreasonable at all to interpret it that way”. However, he noted that he hasn’t seen the study conducted by the ministry.