A second in a series idea that is not mine, but I am learning to love, can be summarized as:
The Port Mann Bridge can be its own Toll Free Alternative.
The Ministry of Transportation decided several years ago they were going to build a 10-lane tolled bridge to replace the Port Mann. At the time, they promised the irate people in Surrey who were affronted of the idea of paying for infrastructure built for them that there would always be a “Toll Free Alternative”. They could use the big, shiny new bridge and pay $3 to save time, or they could use some alternative, and save money.
Turns out that alternative was New Westminster’s surface streets, and we all know what happened. Many are already calling for tolls to be put on the Pattullo to pay for its upkeep or replacement, and to return the traffic to the barely (but slightly more) tolerable pre-Free-Alternative conditions. So tolls on the Pattullo may solve some problems created by the tolling of the Port Mann – but what of the promise of the free alternative?
Seeing as how the Port Mann is currently operating tickety-boo with only 8 lanes opened, and two more lanes are scheduled to open some time in 2014 – How about using those two unopened lanes of the Port Mann as the toll free alternative to the tolled 8 lanes?
It is devious in its simplicity.
When the two new lanes are opened later this year, make them toll-free. There is oodles of underutilized pavement at both ends of the bridge, give the road user the ultimate and easy choice: pay the $3 toll and enjoy one of the 8 free-flowing lanes, or get in the queue with all of the other people who have more time, and wait to squeeze into the free lane. Perhaps the most brilliant point is that drivers will not have to exit the freeway and roll the dice with New Westminster surface streets, they can stay on Highway 1, observe the queue for the free lanes, and make the rational choice for themselves at the time they need to cross the bridge.
This will cost nothing to set up, except a few traffic barriers to separate the alternative lane from the general flow of traffic. I suspect the pressure will immediately arrive to open 4 lanes as the toll-free alternative, which would still provide a significant time savings and increase in lanes over what existed before the Port Mann was replaced. And New Westminster would finally see a little peace.