May you live in Interesting Times

That infamous Terry Pratchett curse seems to have fallen upon us.

It started on Monday, when a letter delivered to New Westminster Council from TransLink’s Director of Roads was discussed at the Council Meeting. The letter includes the following quotes:

TransLink is prepared to establish a collaborative process with the Cities of New Westminster and Surrey to undertake a comprehensive review of the following:
• All practical solutions for crossings and crossing locations;
• Bridge capacity and lane allocations;
• Implications of current and future projects (including South Fraser Perimeter Road/Port Mann/Highway 1 connections) and rapid transit projects;
• Through traffic, particularly truck traffic, in the municipalities;
• Consistency with local and regional objectives and consideration of priority relative to other regional transportation initiatives.
The objective of all of this work would be to produce one or more agreements between TransLink and the two cities as to how the current situation with the Pattullo Bridge is to be rectified. It is suggested that reasonable and achievable target for completion of this work is early 2013.

This has been characterized as an “olive branch” in the paper version of this local news story, and it may be such. My first reaction when reading it was “TransLink just blinked”.

However, it was hard to square that thought with what I saw at the Stakeholders Open House held by TransLink on Monday. At that event, the message was (and I paraphrase): we hear you, but we are moving ahead.

This was reinforced at Thursdays Public Open House in Surrey. The poster boards from that event are available for your review here. The message was, again, we are moving ahead with the 6-lane bridge, and further, you prefer the Upstream A option.

So with that mixed message, we are heading into this:

A few notes on the Rally this Saturday. First off, I am not the leader of this group. I have been working with a group of engaged citizens, and agreed to have my name on the press release, but I am just one of the many people working on this. So my fat mouth gets me quoted in the local papers. The group right now has no leader, no name, no website (although this website was put together by some members of the group) , and no formal organization. It is a grassroots movement. There are some members of the NWEP involved, but this is not an NWEP-led event. That said, the NWEP supports the message of the Rally and will be there.

One question asked by an astute local reporter was how TransLink’s letter to Council caused our message on Saturday to change? At the time, I had not seen the Thursday Open House materials, and I said, “well, I hope it becomes a Rally of Support for TransLink in re-opening discussion about the myriad of options for the bridge”.

The reporter replied: “You’re an optimist!”

“I have to be”, I said. “Why else would I spend so much time on this?”

So I remain optimistic. And hope to see you on Saturday morning.

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