Today, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Mary Polak celebrated some of the major transportation successes of 2012, including the opening of the new Port Mann Bridge, which has vastly improved commuting times, giving motorists more time to spend with their families.
"This has been an exciting year for transportation network improvements. We are working to put families first through improved road safety, reduced congestion and improved air quality," said Polak. "Thanks to new bridges, major highway upgrades and transit investments, families can now travel home to their loved ones faster and easier than ever before."
Eight lanes on the Port Mann Bridge opened on Dec. 1, helping to alleviate the worst traffic bottleneck in B.C., cutting rush hour commutes by up to 50 per cent. In addition, there is transit service over the bridge for the first time in more than 25 years.
This $3.3-billion project supports the BC Jobs Plan by creating about 8,000 construction jobs. Construction continues as crews work to complete the bridge to its full 10-lane capacity and improve Highway 1 through Coquitlam, Burnaby and Vancouver.
Also on the Lower Mainland, the eastern section of the new South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) opened, relieving traffic congestion and removing trucks from community streets. The $1.26-billion project will generate more than 4,000 construction jobs and approximately 7,000 long-term jobs. The remainder of the SFPR will open in December 2013.
"Highway infrastructure that is well-designed and well-maintained is crucial to efficient transportation of goods and people across B.C. and imperative for the safety of road users, particularly those in the trucking and motor coach industries who practice their trade on the network every day," said B.C. Trucking Association president and CEO Louise Yako. "Transportation investments will also enhance the commercial transport sector's ability to support B.C.'s trade opportunities and contribute to our economic growth."
Milestones have been reached on many other key highways projects throughout the province, including reaching Phase 2 on the Cariboo Connector Project, to widen a section of Highway 97 to four lanes between Prince George and Cache Creek.
In the Okanagan, a $77.9-million project to construct a new four-lane section of Highway 97 between Winfield and Oyama has surpassed the halfway mark, and planning is underway for a new southbound passing lane on Highway 33 and the relocation of the Big White Road intersection.
The Highway 33 project is part of $207 million in capital investments announced by Premier Christy Clark at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) meeting. At UBCM, Premier Clark also announced $650 million over 10 years to continue four-lane upgrades to the Trans-Canada Highway between Kamloops and the Alberta border.
In eastern B.C., the $63-million Donald Bridge is now open, increasing safety and capacity for the Revelstoke to Golden segment of the Trans-Canada Highway. In the Northeast, the Peace highways have received $78 million in upgrades, improving road safety and supporting the growing natural gas industry.
On Vancouver Island, the new $12.6-million steel two-lane Sombrio Bridge on Highway 14 east of Port Renfrew recently opened to traffic, replacing an older single-lane timber bridge. Also, the Malahat is receiving $8-million in safety upgrades, with a new concrete median barrier being added by spring 2013, making this travel corridor safer for residents and tourists.
Many large transit projects are also underway. Construction began on the Evergreen Line, which will open in summer 2016. The Evergreen Line will be a fast, frequent and convenient SkyTrain service, linking Port Moody and Coquitlam to the current SkyTrain system. Construction will create over 8,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The government also gave new powers to TransLink to go after people who do not pay their transit fares. With the changes, people who do not pay their fare-evasion fines will face serious consequences.
Also, after mayors from throughout B.C. asked for an independent review of BC Transit, a review was completed, with input from over 90 per cent of local governments. The government has agreed to all of the panel's 18 recommendations which will provide a comprehensive foundation to improve the partnership between local governments and BC Transit.
Earlier this year, the government completed its review of ICBC, making 24 recommendations, including several where the corporation can be better aligned with government's priority of cost containment. ICBC accepted all of the recommendations and created an action plan to better serve British Columbians - with $50 million in reduced costs by the end of 2013.
Community consultations have been a big focus this year, with the ministry sparking the discussion on the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project. The first phase of a multi-phase consultation process has begun to look at ideas for replacing or expanding the existing tunnel, built in 1959, which now carries over 80,000 vehicles each day.
The ministry's DriveBC network continued to expand, providing more ways for drivers to plan a safe trip. 48 new web cameras have been added to the DriveBC network this year, bringing the number of DriveBC webcams to nearly 290 across the province.
Our government is focused on keeping our economy strong with good paying jobs while making life more affordable for British Columbians. The BC Jobs Plan supports job creation, strengthening our infrastructure for getting goods to market, and opening and expanding markets for our goods and services.
- Since 2001, the ministry has invested over $11 billion in highway improvements across B.C. to improve safety and access for motorists and help reduce congestion.
- Approximately $2.3 billion has been directly provided to TransLink and BC Transit since 2001 for transit improvements.
- In April, Premier Christy Clark launched the new Pacific Gateway Transportation Strategy 2012-2020. This strategy will support the key elements of the BC Jobs Plan to expand markets for B.C. products and strengthen infrastructure to get goods to market.
- The strategy builds on trade opportunities created by expanding Asian demand for coal, forest products, potash, grain and minerals, and in container traffic and the growth in air travel related to agrifoods, tourism and international education.
- The strategy targets $25 billion in new public and private-sector investment, in addition to $22 billion already committed since 2005. The Asia-Pacific Skills Table has estimated that this new investment will create at least 17,000 additional jobs by 2020.
Follow the progress of the Port Mann/Highway 1 project at: www.pmh1project.com
To see a time lapse of the Port Mann Bridge, go to: www.pmh1project.com/info-centre/image-gallery/project-videos/Pages/default.aspx
Learn more about Canada's Pacific Gateway at: www.pacificgateway.gov.bc.ca
Follow the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure online at: www.tranbc.ca
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure