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Ban trucks on Royal, Pattullo: City
Truck traffic in New Westminster has increased significantly in the past year because drivers are using the Pattullo Bridge to avoid tolls on the Port Mann Bridge, according to a city report.
The numbers have city council calling on the province and TransLink, which is responsible for the Pattullo, to take several measures to improve the situation.
Council has called for a ban on heavy trucks on the Pattullo Bridge. Council also want trucks prohibited entirely from Royal Avenue. They are currently permitted during daytime hours. In addition, council is asking the province to reduce the $9 toll truckers must pay for taking the Port Mann to encourage truck drivers to use it instead of the Pattullo.
The report noted during September to November 2012, before the Port Mann tolls were introduced, approximately 570 heavy trucks used Royal Avenue daily. But between June and August this year that jumped to 930 a day.
The difference on McBride Boulevard was much more marginal going from 450 a day to 495. General volume has gone up five per cent for Royal and nine per cent for McBride.
“That’s just not tenable. Royal Avenue is just not that type of road that can be handling that kind of truck traffic,” said Coun. Jonathan Coté prior to Monday’s council meeting.
Coté, co-chair of the city’s master transportation plan task force, sympathizes with the truckers for using the Pattullo because the heavy toll eats into their income.
“That’s a pretty hefty price to have a crossing, I can certainly see why truck traffic is using the Pattullo Bridge,” said Coté.
Tolling the Pattullo should also be considered, he said, and called for regional conversation on the issue that has impacted cities like New Westminster that are caught in the middle. He had previously called for regional tolling to help pay for transportation infrastructure.
“We need to make it clear we cannot be the toll-free alternative for the region,” said Coté. “If we’re not able to make progress in reducing traffic in our city I think we have no choice but to ask for those type of solutions.”
Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said in general he is not a supporter of tolling, but it may be the only way to reduce traffic in New Westminster especially since once the South Fraser Perimeter Road is completed trucks will use the Pattullo even more than they already are to avoid paying tolls and a detour that would extend their trips to the northeast sector from five kilometres to 23.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or traffic expert to say where would a trucker go,” said Puchmayr, who received support from the rest of council on his motion to call for the province and TransLink to build a ‘direct’ connection to the northeast sector.
“Eighty-five per cent of [truck traffic] has no interest in New Westminster, but they’re coming through New Westminster. Build a corridor that does that rather than hinder it,” said Puchmayr.
At Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Wayne Wright pointed out the Port Mann tolls will increase in December and that will mean even more traffic running through New West.