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Translink Buzzer Blog

United Boulevard Extension: an interview with Sany Zein, TransLink Director of Roads

A map of the United Boulevard Extension with the issue areas delineated. This is pulled from the boards put up at the United Boulevard consultation sessions. Click for a MUCH larger version!

Please note: in response to the huge response on this project, another consultation session has now been scheduled for New Westminster, on Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Justice Institute of British Columbia! Find out more at the United Boulevard page.

Sany Zein, TransLink's Director of Roads!

As you may know, we’re currently consulting on the United Boulevard Extension, a project to improve multimodal travel and regional goods movement in the Coquitlam and New Westminster areas.

The project, which is part of our 2011 supplemental plans, has raised a ton of discussion about implementation, its value, and what will happen next—for example, see these posts at Tenth to the Fraser and the New West Environmental Partners.

So I thought I’d also do an interview with Sany Zein, TransLink’s Director of Roads, to find out a bit more about the project and hopefully add to the discussion that is already out there.

What is the United Boulevard Extension and why is it considered a priority for the region?


View Larger Map

The United Boulevard Extension is part of the North Fraser Perimeter Road project, which has been a regional priority since the 1990s. The North Fraser Perimeter Road is intended to improve cycling and walking connections between New Westminster and Coquitlam, and facilitate the movements of goods and keep trucks moving on regional roads rather than local roads. The project will link the Pitt River Bridge with the Queensborough Bridge, through an efficient regional corridor.

Within that corridor there are many things that need to be done. One of them is improving the link between United Boulevard in Coquitlam and Brunette Avenue in New Westminster. Other components of the North Fraser Perimeter Road are improvements on Front Street, and improvements on Brunette at Columbia. The United Boulevard Extension is a piece of road that’s missing from the arterial network.

Today, United Boulevard is built to a four-lane arterial standard, and Brunette Avenue is mostly built to a four lane arterial standard. But in between, there is a single lane wooden Bailey bridge, so traffic has to take alternating turns crossing the bridge. Braid Street, which is the road between United and Brunette, is an industrial road that crosses multiple rail tracks at grade. There is a very busy rail yard just south of Brunette Avenue, so traffic comes to a halt as trains come across the road repeatedly near the intersection of Braid and Brunette. So that arterial corridor has a discontinuity with the bridge and at-grade rail crossings.

At the same time, Braid Street south of Brunette serves an industrial area. So it’s a busy area for trucks and business, which is at the moment choked by the rail crossings and the single lane bridge.

Why is TransLink interested in this road project – shouldn’t TransLink be investing only in transit projects?

While TransLink is best known for providing transit services such as SkyTrain and buses, we do have a mandate for regional road movements. Economic growth and efficient goods movement are a key goal in the region’s long-range transportation strategy, Transport 2040.

So with the municipalities, we manage the regional road network, and we are always helping the municipalities fund and plan road projects of regional importance. The Coast Meridian Overpass in Port Coquitlam and the Fraser Highway widening in Surrey are examples of major road network improvements that TransLink has co-funded. The North Fraser Perimeter Road, and specifically the United Blvd Extension, has been identified as the highest priority regional road project.

Why is it such a high priority?

Major planning milestones for the United Boulevard project from the 1990s to today. Taken from the boards presented at the United Boulevard consultation sessions. Click for a MUCH larger version.

In the 1990s, the province and then the region looked at what the regional road priorities were, and this is one of the last remaining projects from that set that hasn’t been addressed. Stakeholders in the goods movement community confirm that the North Fraser Perimeter Road is their highest priority.

What are the potential benefits of this project?

The benefits can be discussed in a few aspects. The first is “What are the benefits to New Westminster?” One of the key benefits is encouraging regional and truck traffic to flow on the regional network, rather than the more residential-oriented roads such as Braid Street and 8th Avenue. This project will support the removal of Braid Street and 8th Avenue from the truck network, at the request of New Westminster.

Another aspect is improving traffic conditions on the local roads of the Sapperton neighbourhood. New Westminster has requested, and we have agreed, that as part of this project, we will help with the preparation of a neighbourhood mitigation plan for Sapperton, to better manage traffic, noise, and visual issues.

We are also expecting the southbound lineups on Braid Street to get shorter. Today on Braid Street, heading south towards Brunette, vehicles could wait several long signal cycles . But because this project will simplify the intersection of Braid and Brunette, traffic will move more efficiently. It will be a less complex intersection with fewer lineups on Braid Street – this will reduce stop-and-go conditions.

Another project benefit will be significantly improved pedestrian and cycling facilities between New Westminster and Coquitlam. Today the environment is hostile to pedestrians and bikes travelling between United and Brunette. This project will include upgraded facilities for pedestrians and cyclists to travel between the two cities.

Finally, for New Westminster businesses in the Braid industrial area south of Brunette Avenue, this project will make it easier for customers, employees and deliveries to reach their destinations.

Coquitlam has an industrial area along United Blvd and this project will improve regional connectivity to the businesses along that corridor.

For the region, the movement of goods and regional traffic will be better served by removing a bottleneck that’s now created by the single lane bridge and the busy at-grade rail crossings.

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?

Option A, the United Boulevard construction option conditionally approved by New Westminster Council. Taken from the boards presented at the United Boulevard consultation sessions. Click for a MUCH larger version!

See PDFs of each proposed option:

So far, New Westminster council has conditionally approved one option, the T option, which is also known as Option A. While Option A will improve the current conditions, it is expensive and requires a new large raised signalized intersection, creating a substantial structure at the south edge of the Sapperton neighbourhood.

As part of our due diligence we have therefore looked at a range of alternatives to see what else we can do, and TransLink sought the input of the community on three additional Options, named B, C, and D, which were not endorsed by New West Council. We recognize that while these options may cost less that Option A, they physically intrude more into the community, although in terms of visual impacts they may have benefits compared to Option A.

However, the feedback that we have received so far indicates opposition from the community to Options B, C, and D. We will not proceed with any options that are not endorsed by New Westminster Council.

It’s really important to emphasize that this project will only proceed with the approval of New Westminster and Coquitlam councils. We will only proceed with their approval and with an option that they believe will work for the community.

There is also the question: are there other options out there? We will continue to do our due diligence to find out if there are things that we can still look at. We are welcoming ideas from New West and Coquitlam staff, council, and residents, and already as part of the public consultation process residents have approached us with some ideas to explore. Are there other options we should be looking at which will solve the traffic issues and minimize community impacts that we should throw into the mix? We are open to more options. (Editor’s note: Please feel free to contact TransLink community relations officer Vincent Gonsalves with your suggestions at vincent.gonsalves@translink.ca.)

Could you address the concerns raised about the public consultation session held in New Westminster on November 18?

We received a lot of comments that the session on Thursday, November 18 could have been better organized. The turnout was large, which we were thrilled with, but the venue and the setup proved to be inadequate for the number of people who attended.

We very much appreciate the residents’ engagement, as well as the attendance of New Westminster Council members and the Mayor. We heard their concerns, and we want to continue the engagement in a forum which would allow residents to better understand the project and provide good feedback. So we have organized an additional public engagement session on December 7 at the Justice Institute. There will be a presentation and an opportunity to discuss the project and have a Q&A session. (Editor’s note: See this page for more detail on the Dec 7 session.)

When is the actual deadline for the federal money to go away? How does that work?

The federal government has earmarked a $65 million contribution towards this project, and they are requesting a commitment by December 31, 2010 that the project will proceed. The reason they’ve set a contribution agreement deadline is because the federal contribution comes from a program that expires in March 2014. They want to make sure those dollars can be spent by that date, and if they cannot be spent here, they will look for other places to spend them.

What happens next?

Coquitlam Council has approved the project, but the majority of the project is in New Westminster, so the key approval is from New Westminster Council. We have conditional approval for Option A from New West council, and we are working with New Westminster staff to make sure the conditions they have attached to their approval are addressed to their satisfaction. We continue to conduct our technical and financial due diligence to make sure that all alternatives are looked at to ensure a functional and affordable project.

If approved to proceed to the next stage, in early 2011 we will do more public consultation, more technical work on the design, and we will start the environmental assessment, neighbourhood mitigation, and design processes. We would aim to start construction in early 2012.

There may be property acquisition needed as part of this project. Can you talk about the process involved with that?

Any of the options would likely involve some impacts on property. For properties that are directly affected, there is a process by law which TransLink follows to deal one- on-one with property owners. The process involves negotiations and discussions directly with property owners. (Editor’s note: The law is called the BC Expropriations Act — read the law here.)

How does this project fit into the big picture of the North Fraser Perimeter Road?

While we now may have the opportunity to build the United Boulevard Extension, New West council has been very clear that they don’t want this to happen in isolation. They want to know how the whole corridor will be addressed. So we’ve committed that, as part of the Pattullo Bridge Replacement project with a new toll bridge, we will look at improving Front Street. We are also giving a commitment to improve Brunette Avenue at Columbia, where the road narrows down from two eastbound lanes to one eastbound lane.

So we have a big picture. We have the opportunity in front of us now to get the United Boulevard Extension done by 2014. We are asking if the region is interested in proceeding with this part of the project now, with the understanding that we are actively looking and committing to solutions overall on the North Fraser Perimeter Road.

How much is this going to cost?

In round numbers, the latest estimates for the Options that we have looked are between $150M and $175M. TransLink has committed $60M to this project as long as we can find a scope that New Westminster and Coquitlam can support. So combined with the federal contribution, we have $125M committed. If the project proceeds, we will be attempting to close the funding gap by seeking more partners to help fund the project, and by getting into more design details to explore if the costs can be brought down.

Thanks Sany!

Again, for more information, please do come out to the next consultation session at Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. You can find out more about the consultation and the project at the United Boulevard page.

And as always, feel free to post your comments and questions here and Sany and I will get you the answers!


38 Comments

  • By Matt, November 30, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

    Translink admits they believe the SFPR will reduce truck traffic on any NFRP. Combine this with the fact most of the traffic on the existing route is commuter traffic, if that traffic wasn’t clogging the road the truck traffic would flow much more freely.

    The UBE (and NFPR) directly compete with the Evergreen Line and the Langley to Braid express bus service over the new Port Mann. At a time of fiscal constraint, where this project still has a funding gap with an unknown source, how it is prudent to invest in the UBE?

    How is it also prudent for New West to allow this project to proceed without a full, public plan on how and when the rest of the NFPR will proceed? The Evergreen Line was suppose to be in operation by a fixed date, 2011 originally. And has finances changed we’ll be lucky if it’s done by 2014. With that example, New Westminster simply can not take the chance that a completion date for mitigating the rest of the NFPR route will remain fixed. Once the flood gates are opened, there is no closing them.

    Finally, just today the Montreal Board of Trade endorsed transit as a better investment than roads, recognizing that by shifting commuters out of cars you free up road space for goods transport and keep those vehicles which must be on the road rolling for a lot lower cost than investing in more roads.

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Board+Trade+sold+public+transit/3892742/story.html

    Just because the Feds are offering cheap money (far less than 50% of the project cost) doesn’t mean we have to take it. We must do a full analysis of all options for people and goods movement, road and transit, as a holistic system before making such large investments in likely unneeded roads.

    If the cheapest investment is to build more transit to achieve the same goal, then do it. It shouldn’t be a roads vs. transit or even a “we have to invest equally” situation. Do what makes sense, and if that’s 100% transit to achieve the best and cheapest results, that sounds like a far better investment for taxpayers.

  • By Briana @ TenthToTheFraser.ca, November 30, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

    Great follow-up post Jhenifer. I appreciate hearing TransLink’s response to the questions & concerns raised by New Westminster residents on our blog.

  • By D, November 30, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

    This is a very tricky site; I do feel some sympathy for TransLink’s planners and engineers on this one; simply upgrading the Bailey bridge would probably not be enough for goods movement.

    But…

    Matt is right; most of the traffic on this route consists of single occupant vehicles. Amidst all of this talk about the importance of goods movement, there has never, not once, been any kind of solid strategy to make sure that these gateway routes don’t just fill up with passenger cars. From a goods movement perspective yes, this makes sense, but it will not help trucks move faster if it’s full of general purpose traffic. If the province, feds, TransLink, and even the ‘gateway community’ itself were serious about goods movement, we’d see some sort of mechanism to offer advantages to trucks and transit, not just more overpasses for commuters.

    If I was on New West Council, I’d think long and hard about this one. Maybe it’s leverage to insist on the best quality urban design as the NFPR upgrades Front Street through downtown; maybe a waterfront park that encapsulates the road, or something of the like.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, November 30, 2010 @ 6:15 pm

    Thanks for the feedback guys: I am passing your comments on to Sany and the project team.

  • By ???, November 30, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

    How about putting in road tolls on this new segment to support funding?

  • By Jacob, November 30, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

    Yes, matt is right, we can’t do it just because the government has money on the table. The New west area is already mostly developed, but surrey isn’t. We need to set our priorities to increase the density in surrey. Density = Successful transit

  • By Cliff, November 30, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

    As someone who lives in the area, I thought I’d chip in here.

    We need this. Badly. What happens in the area is traffic bleeds out and radiates out from this one choke point. Traffic on Holmes is often backed up to 10th Avenue. All vehicles waiting to turn left onto the already congested Columbia Street. People are forced to cut through residential areas, because traffic is so bad, that many of the right or left turn bays are blocked because cars can’t access them because of all the traffic.

    And I haven’t even yet mentioned how bad the traffic around Braid and Brunette is! Traffic on Braid is backed up right past the intersection at Columbia and well onto 8th Avenue. In the opposite direction, traffic is so backed up onto United, that by the time you get across the single lane bridge, it’s faster to turn left, cut through the industrial area, come out onto Brunette, then turn around using anyone of the businesses on the left side (Because all other left turn movements are barred). And on Brunette? One lane. One single, pathetic lane to turn right off Columbia. Combined with the three ring circus created in downtown New Westminster with only one lane in each direction and the 30kph speed limits and traffic just crawls. Traffic is so slow on Front Street, I figure I can keep up with traffic and save gas by getting out and just pushing my vehicle; at 2kph, it wouldn’t take much to keep up.

    People use 10th Avenue for a couple reasons. First off, it’s basically a bypass for the cluster**** that the rest of New Westminster is. The side effect is that is makes turning onto my residence on 10th Avenue a gong show. I’m thankful I have a driveway large enough to quickly turn around in because if I had to backup to get out of my driveway, I’d be waiting a long long time. Secondly, what do you suppose happens when three major corridors hit a two lane road? Pretty much what you’d think happens. I see it every day from my front window as the combined traffic of Southridge, Kingsway, and Canada Way all tango in front of my house.

    New Westminster is smack dab in the centre of the region’s corridors and they refuse to play ball. City Hall is ridiculously overprotective of its tiny population to the point that everyone suffers as a result of this. The selfish stance I see being taken by the city of New Westminster truly is cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. (The city of Vancouver suffers from this problem too, but that’s a whole other post). As a resident, I am screaming for this project to go through. I am wasting time and money and my health suffers as I sit in this traffic day after day.

    Either TransLink or the BC MOT needs to take control of the corridor away from the city of New Westminster, stick a proper 4 lane street through there signed at 60kph and make the lanes nice and wide for the trucks that need and use this corridor.

    In any case, if this project goes through, it will be just a small taste of relief as much of the problem isn’t the traffic so much as it is the politics.

  • By Cliff, November 30, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

    Oh and one more thing. From where I live, it’s faster to take Caribou, Gaglardi and Como Lake to get to the residential area of Cape Horn. Think about that route for a moment. It’s absurd. It’s a detour of over 5 kilometres! Having had tested this, I can tell you it’s about six minutes faster when rush hour hits.

    All from this one stupid choke point at Braid and Brunette.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, November 30, 2010 @ 11:50 pm

    More roads and lanes just means more cars.

  • By D, December 1, 2010 @ 8:17 am

    I think that Cliff’s articulate and logical comments make it abundantly clear that this has nothing whatsoever to do with goods movement.

  • By Patrick Johnstone, December 1, 2010 @ 11:09 am

    Respectfully, Cliff, This project will do nothing to fix the traffic back-up from Columbia going into North Road, which is what is causing the back-ups at Holmes. Worse, it will do nothing to fix the problems you point out at Braid and Brunette. That one, single pathetic lane you mention turning right onto Brunette from Columbia will still be one, single pathetic right turn lane, except that it will now be the only access to this $170 million overpass, and to all other points east. This will also do nothing to fix the problems you mention of Front Street, as this project is at least two bottlenecks away from Front Street.

    No-one here is arguing that the transportation system is New West is fine the way it is. What we are arguing is whether this particular $170 Million overpass is going to solve any of the problems we all see. The simple answer is no. Let’s do the responsible thing and spend the $170 million on solutions to some of the problems you raised.

  • By Matt, December 1, 2010 @ 11:13 am

    @D: Indeed, Cliff very clearly shows this road expansion will be used by car NOT trucks. As soon as it’s built it will be overrun and gridlocked with commuters. Commercial traffic will move no more freely than it does now.

    It also only addresses the symptom, not the problem. The symptom is a gridlock of cars. The problem is too many cars due to an inadequate transit system serving Zone 3. Build the Evergreen Line, get the Langley to Lougheed Rapid Bus in place, and dissolve away the traffic. Solve the problem, don’t try to put a large and very expensive band-aide over a gushing wound.

    That’s the only effective way to get congestion relief in New Westminster and surrounding cities.

  • By Cliff, December 1, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

    This project has everything to do with moving all road users around. Not just trucks. This is one of the requirements set forth by the city of Coquitlam and one that, according to the presentation boards, TransLink is obligated to make sure happens.

    Yeah, we have a big problem with bus transit in the area. There isn’t enough ridership to warrant more buses, and there’s no sense running empty buses to try and attract riders. I’m not going to ride a bus to Coquitlam when my vehicle will get me there ridiculously faster. I will, however, use transit to get downtown Vancouver and Burnaby because it’s nearly as fast as taking my vehicle.

    All the traffic in the area play off each other. All these bottlenecks are not singular and separate! This project is just one small piece of the pie that’s needed to make this area functional. There is a big choke point in these areas because they lead to the Tri-Ciies and points further east.

    Intentionally restricting road capacity because you want to limit cars doesn’t work because of one simple fact: Cities grow. Trying to get by with outdated infrastructure from the 1960s while the population is quadruple the size, then clicking your tongues and saying, “Well this is because you people aren’t taking transit, hurrr!” is really a bit silly.

    Most, if not all, of the traffic problems caused by commuters going through New Westminster can be solved through the improvement and construction of a couple key corridors. Namely, the NFPR, and a new Pattulo Bridge with a direct connection to the TCH via Gaglardi.

    I’m not saying this is a miracle project that will whisk away traffic from 10th Avenue. I’m not saying this will cure the problems in downtown New Westminster. And I don’t think this will solve ALL our problems in the Sapperton area. But, it’s a start, and one I look forward to seeing unfold before my eyes as we finally move out of the stone age on road infrastructure. Make no mistake about it, the NFPR is a long time coming.

  • By Rick B., December 1, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

    As a resident of New Westminster, I want to say thank you for taking the time to address the issues of a minority of our citizens who can’t fathom the transportation needs of our growing region. I also firmly believe our council is shortsighted suggesting the T option is the only acceptable plan due to the ruckus of a few. Our city has always been behind the 8 ball when it comes to transportation issues, landing us in court from irresponsible and unlawful restriction of commuters.
    I would like to see this project move ahead with fiscal responsibility for the taxpayer, designed for efficient movement of traffic. Should this require additional expropriation to achieve these goals so be it. This is not the first time property has been expropriated for the benefit of our regions infrastructures in New Westminster. I sincerely hope the emotional rhetoric of these few citizens and the actions of our reactionary council does not jeopardize this long awaited progress. Thank you.

  • By voony, December 1, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

    The Cliff postings are instructive since they clearly explain that that is for commuter. He explains there is lot of traffic, may be, but it looks the traffic is moving fast enough to make the transit option (M line + 97B, that is not slow transit!) from Sapperton to Coquitlan order of magnitude slower than car. So why make the car commute even faster?

    So why you would like this project?

    “Today on Braid Street, heading south towards Brunette, vehicles could wait several long signal cycles”

    well reduce the length of signal cycle!
    Seriously, that’s it?

    That shows how immature this project is, Translink is willing to throw up $150 million just because “Today on Braid Street, heading south towards Brunette, vehicles could wait several long signal cycles”

    Is it serious?

    The reality is that 100m North the province is multiply per 2 the capacity of the Hw1, 1km South, the province is building a brand new 4 lanes Highway (SFPR)…

    All that make the UBE irrelevant…and that is probably the reason why some people are pushing it like hell right now…
    because once the Port Mann bridge and SFPR will be in service: traffic have good chance to disappear on the United Boulevard and the supporter of the UBE with it !

    Cliff says also “Intentionally restricting road capacity because you want to limit cars doesn’t work because of one simple fact: Cities grow. Trying to get by with outdated infrastructure from the 1960s while the population is quadruple the size…”

    That is what Vancouver is doing. isn’it?
    could it be the reason why Vancouver is regularly quoted as the city with the best “quality of life” in the world?

    Cliff, you should pay a visit to L.A.

  • By Cliff, December 1, 2010 @ 11:56 pm

    First off. The picture of me being painted as the penultimate SOV commuter is a little incorrect. I take transit roughly 40% of the time as part or all of my journeys. That means I frequently drive to SkyTrain and use it to get around or I walk from my house to a bus stop or SkyTrain station. I’ve carpooled, and believe it or not, while working downtown for several months, I opted to use a bicycle (not just once, I mean everyday M-F 8-5). This being said, I am certainly not representative of the usual SOV driver.

    This being said, I recognize that expanding bus service and building rapid transit is a key factor to creating a more livable region. When it comes to this project, however, cutting back the project and possibly tossing in a few buses isn’t going to solve much. The problem in New Westminster can not be solved by simply “more transit”. Transit in New Westminster is already incredibly good! For about 20 years we haven’t been able to run transit across the Port Mann bridge because it was so congested, buses couldn’t keep a schedule. That should tell you something right there.

    As a region and as a province we are pretty much broke. We’re facing some serious transportation issues and to spend the little money that we have on a scaled back glorified speed bump as opposed to the other options would be like tossing money into the wind.

    If I could have it my way, the project would include HOV and Truck Only lanes with no expansion for SOVs (apart from a second right turn lane at Brunette and Columbia along with the rest of the NFPR).

    I’ve been to L.A.. What’s more, I’ve driven my vehicle in an L.A. rush hour. It’s overdone. But I never said L.A. was the solution to Vancouver’s problems. And I think it would be foolish to compare Vancouver to L.A. just because a few road projects need to get done. This whole sky is falling argument that opponents of these projects really gets old.

    Why don’t you check out Oak at 70th Avenue, Hastings at Cassiar, and Grandview from Clark to Boundary to see what the world’s most livable city has to offer? This livable city REMOVED HOV lanes along Hastings and turned them into bus only lanes!

    Better yet, why don’t you swing by my place and try pulling in and out of my driveway?

  • By voony, December 2, 2010 @ 1:05 am

    I have lived in L.A. and the problem is that here like anywhere else, they promise… they swear that for every freeway to be built, “it will be the last freeway before transit… but this one is necessary because of rat running” problem similar like you describe Cliff…and it doesn’t work. never.

    To prevent “rat running”, you have to implement traffic calming measure, that works much better. They do that in Europe, and because it works well they tend to do it everywhere now, it’s called “zone 30″ in France, because neighborhood road are designed to not travel faster than 30km/h (not by speed limit noone obey, but by road design! the closest you can find here is the Westend and it works like it should)

    the additional point is that if you go to Vancouver Library, you will find a whole shelf of material to justify the Canada line. here for the UBE the only material I have seen is four slice with option A, B, C and D:
    where are the impact study? how many truck travel the road? 5%, may be even less of the traffic…we don’t know, what are the quantified rational to justify 150K, we don’t know?
    Even for a 3K bike lane, Vancouver produces more background to justify it.

    regarding turning HOV lane as bus lane only. well the Province did mostly the reverse on Hwy 99: and the result in image is here http://voony.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/a-bus-stop-on-the-hwy-99/ …not sure it is a smart move!

    Regarding Transit on Port Mann bridge: queue jumper like the one at George Massey Tunnel or Lions’ Gate could have been put on Port Mann bridge and congestion looks to be a lame excuse… Province decided it could be no provision for transit on current bridge probably because the more the driver are pissed off, the better it can advance its freeway agenda (and eventually have buses clogged in traffic on a pseudo HOV lane on Hwy 99 is what the Province has decided too for similar reason)

  • By Cliff, December 2, 2010 @ 2:23 am

    That many cars in the HOV lane on 99 is actually a good thing. It shows that people are carpooling on that stretch of road. If anything, it warrants looking at building a second HOV lane but with a 3+ restriction!

    Traffic in that lane is flowing smoothly and although at a reduced speed, it’s probably not by much. Traffic in the other two lanes is likely stopping and going and using an absurd amount of gas.

    Rat running occurs because the capacity on the arterials is not high enough. I rat run through my own neighbourhood because if I used 10th Avenue, I would be waiting an extra ten minutes to travel the last two blocks to my home!

    New Westminster, for no good reason limited most of its half of 10th Avenue to one lane. This isn’t even an issue of expanding the street. It goes back and forth between one and two lanes several times. At each merging, it’s a gong show.

    Traffic calming shouldn’t be so much about restricting traffic as much as it should be about discouraging it. Mini-roundabouts, curb extensions, marked crosswalks, and raised intersections all do a fine job of this. Speed bumps and stop signs do not. Too many stop signs and drivers will start to run them. Use speed bumps and that’s effectively saying “As a traffic planner, I have failed.” On another note, Vancouver was trying to push for a 40kph residential speed limit on roads with no centre line. I wonder what became of that because it was certainly a good idea. By the way, I whole heartedly agree, traffic calming in Vancouver’s West End was done correctly. While the layout can be confusing, it is done that way to deter outsiders from using the neighbourhood as a shortcut.

    Regarding the UBE, I’m in favour of option B. It is free flowing and doesn’t appear to have as much of a footprint as the other options (With the exception of A). Option B, however, appears to make it difficult for buses on United to access Braid Station. A possible solution to this would be to have a bus only onramp for Brunette with another exit onto Rousseau. The reverse situation would only require a ramp and a yield for buses merging onto United Boulevard.

  • By Gene, December 2, 2010 @ 2:58 am

    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. So many tips and guides here http://house-extension-ideas.co.uk .

  • By Keith, December 2, 2010 @ 10:16 am

    At the latest Downtown Residents meeting last week, Translink’s communications rep stated they do not have a project manager nor a project team working on the North Fraser Perimeter Road as one entire project! He also said he would try to find an overall plan for the NFPR, but wasn’t sure they had one!!
    This is no way to plan a major transportation project – and should be a real concern for New West Council.
    With all the added road capacity coming on the expanded Hwy#1 project, twinning the Port Mann Bridge, and the South Fraser Perimeter Road, do we really still want to also increase capacity on the North Fraser Perimeter Road?
    What’s the hurry? Let’s demand Translink do some professional transportation planning on this overall network re 2010 forward (rather than the vague “…priority since sometime in the 1990′s” reference).

  • By Keith, December 2, 2010 @ 10:26 am

    Also, I was surprized to see Translink leading their justification for the UBE with “improving cycling and pedestrian connections between New West and Coquitlam”.
    They have shown us no plans, research, numbers, or studies to back up this justification and I would certainly say it’s a bit of an add-on rather than a major factor.
    Perhaps a cycle network plan to illustrate how this section will fit into the larger cycling system (and same for pedestrians) would be useful. I hope they will bring that out at the next open house if they expect to have any credibility on this issue.

  • By Cliff, December 2, 2010 @ 10:39 am

    Regarding the requirement by both New Westminster and Coquitlam that pedestrians and cyclists alike are able to travel through the area safely and effectively, I can tell you that numerous people use Brunette Street to get between Coquitlam and Braid Station. The sidewalk is narrow and has crosswalks over several highway on and offramps. The situation is extremely dangerous; I myself have almost been flattened by a truck turning right on the red and failing to notice I had a walk signal active.

    One part of the problem is that Braid Station is in zone 2, but Coquitlam is in zone 3. Which means people are not going to wait for any of the buses (With combined service frequency as low as under ten minutes) along Brunette to take them to Braid Station as it would cost an extra dollar to do so.

  • By Eric Doherty, December 3, 2010 @ 10:48 am

    I am glad to see that the links to posts at Tenth to the Fraser and NW Environmental Partners. This shows some openness to have a real dialogue.

    However, there are a couple more that focus on what I think is the key issue here, global warming. See the Georgia Straight at http://www.straight.com/article-358636/vancouver/eric-doherty-and-andrew-murray-translinks-freeway-push-must-be-stopped

    and the Common Sense Canadian at http://thecanadian.org/k2/item/415-eric-doherty-3

  • By Cliff, December 3, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

    @Eric

    The Georgia Straight has a reader base largely assosiated with Vancouver’s VERY left of centre and English Bay communities. It doesn’t and shouldn’t surprise anyone here to see that the Straight’s articles and its readers are out of touch with reality when it comes to transportation anywhere outside the city of Vancouver.

    After reading those articles that you largely wrote, I just about fell over laughing. Both the SFPR and NFPR are freeways?

    I don’t think the NFPR should and ever will have a design speed of greater than 60kph nor will I think it will ever be limited access. The SFPR has a design speed of only 80kph and has several traffic lights along its route. Both are not freeways.

    There are just two, count em, two freeways in Metro Vancouver. They are Highway 1 and Highway 99. And to boot, no freeway sections of those highways ever enter Vancouver proper.

    And the UBE competes with the Evergreen Line? Really? “For both money and passengers” is what you wrote. Hmmm.

    The Evergreen Line is a rapid transit route connecting Coquitlam Centre to the rest of the SkyTrain system by way of Port Moody.

    The UBE is an extension of United Boulevard being built in Sapperton to facilitate the movement of road users in that area. These road users are largely trucks and private vehicles from points east of the Pitt River. Commuters here have the option of using WCE to get to downtown Vancouver. Any vehicles going downtown will be getting on at the Cape Horn interchange. So that means any private vehicle coming over the UBE will be going to New Westminster, Vancouver South, or Richmond (including the airport). Connections between these three locations and points east of the Pitt River suffer from very poor transit connections. So it is not unreasonable for these people to need to drive between these locales.

    Traffic going over the UBE and going to downtown Vancouver needs to be discouraged. That’s not the aim of this project. One way to do this is to build a large park and ride facility on the unused lot at Braid Station. If this is the case, then either options C, D, or E are more appropriate.

    While I’m against any freeway going through New Westminster, I can recognize a couple things:

    The NFPR is a vitally important artery that needs upgrading.
    It is not a freeway.
    Even a freeway would be better than that sad monstrosity of ugliness that we call the downtown Parkade.

    Since you made it such an important point in your articles; when it comes to global warming, I just thought you should know: just one of those tankers you see out over the Burrard Inlet pollutes more in one day than all the vehicles in Metro Vancouver does in several months. Taking even one hundred thousand vehicles off the road will do nothing as long as you have all those ships put putting across the inlet.

    By the way, “real dialogue” works both ways. As in recognizing the need for better transit options and expansion while realizing that outdated infrastructure needs to be replaced and upgraded for the safety and health of all road users.

    It’s not a competition. It’s about making sure everyone can get where they need to go by encouraging transit usage but without disenfranchising private vehicle users who have no other options.

  • By Cliff, December 3, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

    Correction:

    I mentioned an option E. There is no such option. I numbered them in my head and incorrectly counted them when listing them off.

  • By Eric Doherty, December 4, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

    Cliff wrote:

    “the UBE competes with the Evergreen Line? Really? “For both money and passengers” is what you wrote. Hmmm.”

    Yup, and the North Fraser Perimeter Road leads from Coquitlam / NE Sector through New Westminster. You have to transfer, but one of the intentions of the Evergreen line is to allow people in the NE Sector to get to New West and Surrey on rapid transit. Transit is not just about getting into Downtown Vancouver, it is about moving around the whole region.

    Cliff also wrote: “when it comes to global warming, I just thought you should know: just one of those tankers you see out over the Burrard Inlet pollutes more in one day than all the vehicles in Metro Vancouver does in several months.”

    This is just not true, road transportation is the largest source of GHG emissions in the region. Look it up, you can probably find the data here on the TransLink website. It is essential to reduce GHG emissions from cars and trucks quickly.

  • By Rick, December 4, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

    To Eric

    If you are truly concerned about GHG emissions perhaps you should target your “stories” towards the sales of Natural Gas to California, or Alberta’s use of NG to extract oil from the tar sands.

    Going after the average citizen who is forced to go through Air-Care to ensure the vehicles emissions are acceptable is garbage.

    What about Industry ? What about cattle farms ? What about home heating ? Your target is vehicles only ?

    I for one am tired of all the “green” “sustainable” rhetoric.

    Mr. Doherty, I expect you to practice what you preach. (but these green gills never do)

  • By voony, December 5, 2010 @ 1:17 am

    Cliff, keeping the dice rolling, writes:
    “The UBE is an extension of United Boulevard being built in Sapperton to facilitate the movement of road users in that area. These road users are largely trucks and private vehicles from points east of the Pitt River. Commuters here have the option of using WCE to get to downtown Vancouver. Any vehicles going downtown will be getting on at the Cape Horn interchange. So that means any private vehicle coming over the UBE will be going to New Westminster, Vancouver South, or Richmond (including the airport). Connections between these three locations and points east of the Pitt River suffer from very poor transit connections. So it is not unreasonable for these people to need to drive between these locales.”

    Why the people going to Richmond New Wst, and South Vancouver, cannot take the Hwy 1 between cap Horn and brunette also?
    It is at least what is suggested by Google, and anecdotally, I have been episodically driving from Richmond to East of Pitt Meadows, and never used Unitd Bld. I tend to use 8th avenue from Richmond because it is how The Queensborough bridge interchange suggest to me, but usually I try to go thru Columbia since it is a nicer ride. I don’t understand your concept, may you elaborate?

    Regarding Transit why people from Pitt Meadows can’t use WCE to go to Richmond or South Vancouver? From Waterfront they can take the Canada line, and then the ride from Pitt Meadows to Richmond can be done in 65 mn (less for South Van). Again here Google map, indicate a driving time close to 50mn: sure transit option is longer,but not excessively longer. The WCE is also still slower than the car to reach down town from Pitt Meadows according to Google. So may you substantiate what you call
    “very poor transit connections”,

    and if the transit connection are “very poor”, shouldn’t we improve them instead to waste $ on road in no need to be improved, since there is already lot of option not requiring the use of United Bld to do the trip you mention?

  • By Eric Doherty, December 5, 2010 @ 11:21 am

    Rick wrote: “If you are truly concerned about GHG emissions perhaps you should target . . . Alberta’s use of NG to extract oil from the tar sands.”

    I do focus on the tar sands including the use of petroleum gas, and that is why I focus on shifting public resources from freeways and other roadway expansions to transit. Most of the oil from the tar sands goes into the tanks of cars, trucks and aircraft. And that includes the cars and trucks here in the lower mainland (yes including mine). A pipeline from the tar sands runs to the refinery on Burrard Inlet.

    It is essential to create a much better transit system for the whole region so we can get off tar sands oil. And for that we need a transit agency that puts transit first.

  • By Cliff, December 5, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    Concerning the emissions factoid I presented and you dismissed as not true?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1229857/How-16-ships-create-pollution-cars-world.html

    http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2010/2010-03-26-02.html

    About using Highway 1 instead of United Boulevard? What and add to all the traffic headed to Vancouver? Using the freeway over such a short stretch is essentially weaving, which is considered an engineering and safety no-no. (Taking into account the onramp at Coleman) Also, can you imagine a line of trucks doing that? It doesn’t take very many to cause headaches for everyone around. Anyone visiting any of the businesses on United anywhere other than Mayfair would have to backtrack to hit the freeway. This includes trucks, that or they have to head to the Bailey Bridge on Braid. Speaking of which, that movement is banned, no left turn from United north to Highway 1 west.

    And during morning and afternoon rush, if I were to go between Pitt Meadows and Richmond, I would use the GEB, take 88th to the Alex Fraser, then take 91 North to Richmond. This allows me to bypass New Westminster though it does require a toll.

    What really bothers me is the lack of interest in Park and Ride facilities. It’s as if the lots at Scott Road and Coquitlam Centre don’t mean anything when it comes to people using them (which lots do!). Why couldn’t one of the requirements of the UBE be a park and ride at Braid. Throw some candy for anyone using it and see what happens. Why would anyone want to drive downtown when the park and ride is at a location that is essentially a silver platter?

  • By SMithy, December 6, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

    Oh, cliff. This is hilarious. It is a classic peice of misinformation: “when it comes to global warming, I just thought you should know: just one of those tankers you see out over the Burrard Inlet pollutes more in one day than all the vehicles in Metro Vancouver does in several months.”

    Actually, the document you linked to (not a scientifc analyiss, but an opinion piece in the Daily Mail) states that the “just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars”

    First off,none of these 16 ships could fit in Vancouver harbour, and secondly, you are mistakenly confusing sulphur with gasoline emmissions. Gasoline contains very little sulfur. It is like saying that more people are mauled by bears than mauled by all the cars in the world, or more people are stung by bees tha

  • By Eric Doherty, December 8, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    The key point is that sulphur is not a greenhouse gas, it does not cause global warming. People do get honestly confused about the different types of pollution/emissions, and it can be confusing because dishonest politicians and corporate spin doctors try to keep us confused.

    The Daily Mail article cited above does make the difference clear, but only if you read way down: “Smoke and sulphur are not the only threats from ships’ funnels. Every year they are also belching out almost one billion tons of carbon dioxide. Ships are as big a contributor to global warming as aircraft . . . Burning low-sulphur fuel won’t cut carbon emissions from ships.”

  • By Alan Robinson, December 25, 2010 @ 2:00 am

    I’d be interested in an elaboration on the improvements intended for Front Street. Given the limited number of addresses on this street, it would seem pretty simple to restrict it only for truck traffic if the main intent of tbe NFPR is to move goods. Little or no new pavement required.

Other Links to this Post

  1. Tweets that mention United Boulevard Extension: an interview with Sany Zein, TransLink Director of Roads -- Topsy.com — November 30, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

  2. TransLink responds to UBE criticism in the Buzzer blog | Tenth To The Fraser — November 30, 2010 @ 9:47 pm

  3. The Buzzer blog » Reminder: United Boulevard open house, Tue Dec 7, 2010 — December 6, 2010 @ 10:57 am

  4. The Buzzer blog » Come to our Sapperton/United Boulevard Extension hands-on workshops, Sat Mar 12 & Wed Mar 16, 2011 — March 7, 2011 @ 10:02 am

  5. The Buzzer blog » Reminder: second Sapperton/United Boulevard hands-on workshop, Wed Mar 16, 2011 — March 16, 2011 @ 8:01 am

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