TransLink responds to UBE criticism in the Buzzer blog

Just a quick update on the controversial United Boulevard Extension plans for you: The Buzzer’s Jhenifer Pabillano took many of the questions and criticisms raised in your comments here, on the New Westminster Environmental Partners website and on NWEP President Pat Johnstone’s blog, Green New West (great commentary btw, Pat) to TransLink’s Director of Roads Sany Zein. In a lengthy blog post on The Buzzer, Sany provides TransLink’s perspective on the following questions:

  • What is the United Boulevard Extension and why is it considered a priority for the region?
  • Why is TransLink interested in this road project – shouldn’t TransLink be investing only in transit projects?
  • Why is it such a high priority?
  • What are the potential benefits of this project?
  • There are four options currently presented for the United Boulevard Extension. Will we only consider the one option (the T option) that New Westminster council has endorsed? Why would we even consider the other three options we have presented?
  • Could you address the concerns raised about the public consultation session held in New Westminster on November 18?
  • When is the actual deadline for the federal money to go away? How does that work?
  • What happens next?
  • There may be property acquisition needed as part of this project. Can you talk about the process involved with that?
  • How does this project fit into the big picture of the North Fraser Perimeter Road?
  • How much is this going to cost?

Read Jhenifer’s interview with Sany on the Buzzer blog for the answers.

I remain skeptical that the UBE is good for New West, and wish that TransLink would focus its efforts on building the Evergreen Line rather than invest more on widening roads in and around Coquitlam. Still, I have to say I am impressed that TransLink has taken the time to respond directly to New Westminster’s concerns, both by adding another public consultation session (Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Justice Institute of British Columbia) and through the Buzzer blog.

No matter how this turns out, I’m proud of the citizens of New West for pressing for answers to their questions. Too often apathy is our worst enemy. I’m proud of the folk of New West for showing up to those consultation sessions and speaking up online and through other channels so that City Council and TransLink could hear and consider their concerns.

3 Replies to “TransLink responds to UBE criticism in the Buzzer blog”

  1. Actually we have to respectfully disagree that Translink has answered New Westminster's concerns.

    They've answered the concerns about the first open house. They've given their justification for the project again. But they have answered zero of the larger concerns we've been raising from the start.

    Why build this project if the SFPR (according to them) will move most of this traffic away from New Westminster?

    How can we build this piece of the project without a solid, public plan on exactly when and how the rest of the route will be completed (including where the money will come from)?

    How can they ensure this project will be used for goods movement and won't simply become jammed with commuter traffic as ever other road expansion has?

    How will the funding gap be filled? Who is this mysterious partner who will bring the needed TENS of millions to the table?

    How can they justify spending $60 million (maybe more if no partner can be found) at a time when there continues to be a funding gap in the Evergreen Line which directly competes with the UBE for commuter traffic? Why not shift cars off the road and create space for trucks by completing the Evergreen Line and getting the Langley to Lougheed rapid bus service in place the Province promised. Even the Montreal Chamber of Commerce has come out saying transit investment, not roads, is a cheaper and more effective way to reduce congestion and increase productivity.

    Where will the traffic go once it reaches the Queensborough Bridge, after tens of millions of investment in that interchange traffic STILL backs up daily on Stewardson all the way down the 4th. And now they want to build a wider road to feed in to Stewardson? We're going to have continual gridlock along Stewardson and Front Street from the bridge to the new, wide UBE.

    If we're just saying yes to allowing Translink to enter the design phase, and council has already said it will ONLY accept "option a" yet Translink is pushing options a-c for budgetary reasons, what if council doesn't like the eventual recommended design? Can we say no in a year's time? If the Feds want a commitment by December 31st that SOMETHING will be built, that definitely ties council's hands in the future. If we say yes now, we're getting a UBE, and if we don't like Translink's final design, well it sounds like too bad for us.

    How about… we agree on exactly what we can accept for an entire project from United to Queensborough first and THEN commit to it. To do anything else would be irresponsible to the voters of New Westminster.

    They talk about taking Braid and 8th out of the regional truck route system to take trucks out of residential neighbourhoods. Why is that worthy goal linked to this project? Stopping trucks flowing through the middle of our purely residential neighbourhoods is simply a decision we should make, UBE or no UBE. The fact there will be no additional capacity on Columbia and Front likely for AT LEAST 5-10 years, if the UBE allows Braid and 8th to be taken out of the regional truck network, where will that east-west truck traffic go? There is a logic gap.

    It seems more like they're repeating the same lines, just like Kevin Falcon did in justifying Gateway, say it enough times and people might believe your arguments are true. They're not looking at the bigger picture, they're not addressing the need for mode shift and holding the line on road growth. They simply see the offer of $65 million from the Federal Government and it has them foaming at the mouth. Just because someone offers you candy doesn't mean you have to take it, particularly if they expect you to pay for more than half that candy.

    Sorry, they really didn't answer any questions.

  2. "How about… we agree on exactly what we can accept for an entire project from United to Queensborough first and THEN commit to it. To do anything else would be irresponsible to the voters of New Westminster."

    I agree with this logic; isn't this what is called Transit-Oriented Development? In fact these are the very principles that TransLink, Metro, etc. espouse. So why aren't they being adhered to for the overall good?

    What the province did in 2002 with the placement of the Millennium Line at this location was done without giving any consideration whatsoever to the future (now) and is already proposed to cost taxpayers more than it ever should:

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