For immediate release - - July 29,1998 - - release number 29
VICTORIA -- Federal involvement in reducing Lower Mainland traffic congestion would be welcomed by the B.C. government, Finance Minister Joy MacPhail and Transportation and Highways Minister Harry Lali said today.
"Federal Transportation Minister David Collenette is right to acknowledge that Lower Mainland gridlock is bad for the environment and bad for the economy," MacPhail said. "Lower Mainland residents say gridlock is a major environmental problem and they want an expanded SkyTrain to be part of the solution."
"This is welcome news at a time when the province has a program well under way for investment in specific projects to relieve traffic congestion in the Greater Vancouver area," Lali said. "This issue has national implications because it is interfering with the efficient movement of goods within the Lower Mainland and to the U.S. and other export markets."
In addition to such initiatives as SkyTrain and rapid bus service, the provincial strategy for the Lower Mainland will see further innovations and improvements to the area’s road network to improve connectivity and continuity and provide more route options.
Collenette has identified Vancouver, Montreal and southern Ontario as three major urban centres where chronic urban congestion is harming the environment and impeding trade.
"Rural transportation is a key component in moving people and goods, too," said Lali. "We would like to see federal support for our rural highway network as well, particularly for routes like the Trans-Canada, which are important east-west links for B.C. and Canada as a whole."
Lali noted that each year British Columbians pay more than $700 million in federal fuel taxes, but over the last three years the provincial government has received just $8 million per year from the federal government toward highway improvements. Even with local road funding through the Infrastructure Works program, B.C. still sees less than five per cent of its fuel taxes being returned to maintain and upgrade highways, he said.
"The provinces have been requesting federal participation in a national transportation investment strategy for some time," said Lali. "Canada is the only G7 country where the national government does not provide ongoing funding support for highways and other transportation. This is a threat to our national competitiveness, particularly in light of the billions invested by the federal government of the United States."
"I look forward to meeting with Minister Collenette and Minister Lali to discuss government of Canada involvement in resolving gridlock on the Lower Mainland," MacPhail said. "I believe the federal government can play a significant role in the expanded SkyTrain project we announced last month."
The rapid transit project, using updated SkyTrain technology to serve five Lower Mainland communities, was announced by Premier Glen Clark on June 24. The project is now embarking on a major public consultation program to determine the best routes.
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The provincial government proposes to improve the operation of the Greater Vancouver highway system over the next decade through the development of four types of programs. High Occupancy Vehicle / Transit Priority Network. It is expected that in the next five to seven years the investment priority for HOV will be the creation of transit lanes and queue jumpers on both provincial and local roads. The objective is to help increase BC Transit ridership by providing time savings and improving reliability. A second priority will be the development of HOV lanes in the eastern half of the Burrard Peninsula to provide connectivity and continuity with the Barnet-Hastings and Highway 1 HOV lanes. The current timetable calls for the completion of a detailed investment plan in early 1998.
A Regional Trip Reduction Service. This service will offer ridematching support for vanpools and carpools and work with employers and schools to promote transit, vanpooling and carpooling. The service, to be directed by the Greater Vancouver Regional District with start-up cost-sharing from the province, is now under development.
A Traffic Management System. It has been proposed that the province invest in new technologies to control traffic more precisely and respond to highway accidents and incidents more quickly. It is expected that the system would be tested first through a pilot project on Highway 1.
Major Road Improvements. Over the next two years, the provincial government will co-operate with municipalities to plan regional routes which may be upgraded or developed to take pressure off the Trans-Canada corridor and to improve conditions for local and regional traffic.
Trans-Canada Highway improvements which will be implemented in co-operation with local governments are:
Information: Kathryn Macdonald, BCTFA (250) 387-2671
1998 News Releases / Ministry News Releases
BC Ministry of Finance and Corporate Relations
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