reynolds transportation 

By Bob Barnett A $4 billion transportation infrastructure plan for south-western B.C., which could be financed by the federal government and the private sector, was unveiled Tuesday by West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast MP John Reynolds. The plan which Reynolds, architect Arthur Erickson and businessman David Lange have been working on for the last year and a half, involves a new toll highway and rail line up the east side of Indian Arm, connecting with Highway 99 and the BC Rail line north of Squamish. In conjunction with the new highway and rail line, the existing Highway 99 could become a four-lane highway from Horseshoe Bay to Pemberton. The existing BC Rail line from North Vancouver to Squamish would become a commuter rail line while freight train traffic between the Lower Mainland and northern B.C. would switch to the new Indian Arm line, which could be extended directly out to the Roberts Bank port at Tsawwassen. Estimated price: $2 billion. The second phase of the plan, worth another $2 billion, involves an automobile and rapid transit tunnel under the Vancouver Harbour, which would tie in with existing plans for rapid transit in the Lower Mainland. The infrastructure plan, which Reynolds says private sector developers are prepared to participate in, is part of the transportation legacy the Vancouver-Whistler Olympic Bid society has embraced. Although the plan has been reviewed and presented in closed door meetings with various politicians and representatives since the beginning of the year, Tuesday’s meeting at the Hollyburn Country Club in West Vancouver was the first public presentation. "This project should go ahead regardless of the Olympics," Reynolds said Tuesday. "It requires some vision, but there’s been no major transportation infrastructure built in B.C. since the Coquihalla Highway in 1986. "This opens up traffic on a north-south route in the province," Reynolds added. Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said he and other members of the Vancouver-Whistler Olympic Bid team were informed of the transportation plan some months ago. "Erickson and Lange were the founding members of the concept. They’ve been trying to solicit input," O’Reilly said. The Whistler mayor is supportive of most the plan, although he’s not in agreement with Reynolds’ suggestion the existing Sea to Sky Highway should be upgraded to four lanes. Reynolds, the Reform Party’s Justice Critic, sees the whole project as a 20 year plan, but says it would create 6,000 jobs immediately. "The province could use that," he said. Some of the keys to the plan are making new infrastructure pay for itself, at least in part, thus the toll on the new highway and the new rail line being primarily a freight line — commuter rail lines alone rarely pay for their operating costs, let alone capital costs. Reynolds says the province could sell Crown land along the Indian Arm route to developers for housing. Another key point in the plan is opening up the northern Interior of the province through an improved rail network, providing more direct access for Interior products to ports, at Tsawwassen and possibly at Squamish. "If you provide the infrastructure the ports will adapt," Reynolds said when asked about improvements to Squamish and Roberts Bank. A crossing from the North Shore to Vancouver is one of the crucial pieces in any transportation plan for the Lower Mainland and communities north of Vancouver, including Horseshoe Bay, Lions Bay, Furry Creek, Squamish and Whistler. After a three-year evaluation of crossing alternatives, which included an automobile tunnel, the provincial government recently announced it was going to upgrade Lions Gate Bridge, a move that will add another 30 years to the bridge’s lifetime but will not increase traffic capacity. Reynolds added that turning the existing North Vancouver-Squamish rail line into a commuter system would speed the growth of communities like Furry Creek and Squamish. Reynolds says the detailed plan laid out by Erickson and Lange will include a rapid transit crossing of Vancouver Harbour that ties into existing and future rapid transit plans in Vancouver. Reynolds noted that federal Transport Minister David Colenette recently proposed up to 50 per cent federal cost sharing in transportation infrastructure programs for major centres, although the cabinet has yet to approve the idea. With the private sector developers that Reynolds says are willing to participate in the plan all that is required of the provincial government is some vision. "We’ve showed it to (B.C. Liberal leader) Gordon Campbell. I think Mr. Campbell has the vision," Reynolds said, but he discounted the NDP government as "only interested in doing things for their people." Premier Glen Clark has said his government supports the Olympic bid — which promises a transportation legacy for the province — and particularly the jobs a successful Olympic bid will create. "Regardless of who supports the Olympic bid or whether the bid is successful, they’re going to have to come up with something like this," Reynolds said.

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