I am writing this letter to express my concerns about the Liberal government’s plan to toll the new Port Mann Bridge.
The minister of highways stated that tolling bridges and highways is happening in many jurisdictions across Canada and that it is an efficient way for travellers to pay for the construction of these projects.
The only toll on Highway 1 in Canada is in the Maritime provinces and residents are unhappy as the toll fees are expensive and private toll companies are making a fortune. I thought that I should examine our government’s “bridge tolling” idea further.
Both the federal and provincial governments fund Hwy. 1 across Canada. In the Greater Vancouver area, Hwy. 1 provides the main access route for commuters who drive to work every day and trucking companies that ship goods and supplies. The new toll will be $3.25 per vehicle each way. For the average worker, the toll fee will cost $32.50 per week or $1,625 per year. Businesses will charge more for their products and vacation costs will rise for tourists.
The tolling costs are going to be even more expensive for the residents of Maple Ridge and eastern municipalities. These commuters are now paying $2.90 to drive each way across the new Golden Ears Bridge to connect with Hwy. 1. Their annual toll cost to drive to work now is $1,450. Combine this with the new toll on the Pt Mann Bridge and their annual cost is $3,075.
TransLink, through its company, Quickpass, will collect the tolls for the Port Mann Bridge. These fees will go to pay for the new cameras, computers and maintenance of this larger bureaucracy. I wonder how much of the toll fees collected will actually go to pay the construction costs?
The provincial government has a responsibility to build highways in this province. They also have a responsibility to collect the appropriate taxes and efficiently apply the tax collected to pay the construction debt. Highways and bridges constructed in BC are funded by the provincial government treasury.
Tolling the Port Mann Bridge is an inefficient way to pay for the construction costs and all B.C. residents should pay the construction costs from the provincial income tax. Encourage your friends and relatives to write to Christy Clark and the BC Liberals and tell them that we oppose tolling the Port Mann Bridge in 2013.