Last week I was driving home from the NDP convention with a semi-retired traffic engineer in the backseat (and he was not backseat driving) when we passed under the Fraser River via the Massey Tunney.
"This tunnel provides 3 lanes in the direction of peak flow during rush hour", he said, "and if they build the 8-lane Massey Bridge that will add one lane, which is 2000 cars per hour, which over a 3 hour rush hour is 6000 new commuters. Assuming half the new households they put in here have a commuter the new bridge will support the development of 12,000 new houses."
Now, 12,000 new houses in south Delta/Ladner/Tsawassen will certainly eat up a lot of nice farm land, and that's a tragedy in its own right. But given that number of households, I immediately divided it into the $3B probable cost of a bridge-plus-Richmond-highway-expansion, and was blown away.
Three billion dollars divided by twelve thousand homes is $250,000 per home. Be generous if you like, and assume a much lower number of Fraser crossing commuters in the new developments. It's still hard to get the number lower than $100,000 per new home.
So, a review of the facts:
- Traffic in the current tunnel is actually falling.
- So new development is the only reason to build an 8-lane monster bridge over the river.
- The extra lanes on the bridge will increase capacity by 2,000 cars per hour, which can be extrapolated to 12,000 to 24,000 new homes, depending on your assumptions.
- The last major bridge/highway project cost 3 billion dollars, and everyone seems to think building a new bridge and widening the freeway north of it will also cost "about" 3 billion dollars.
- 3 billion dollars divided by 24,000 homes is $125,000 per home.
Which leads me to the inescapable conclusion that BC taxpayers are going to be subsidizing "affordable" new housing south of the Fraser to the tune of about $125K per new home.
Can someone stop the ride now? I'm feeling a bit queezy and I want to get off.