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TransLink rejects New West truck route request

Royal Avenue will still be a truck route after the Translink board of directors rejected a request by New Westminster council to ban trucks from Royal, East 8th Avenue and East Columbia Street. - Mario Bartel/NewsLeader
Royal Avenue will still be a truck route after the Translink board of directors rejected a request by New Westminster council to ban trucks from Royal, East 8th Avenue and East Columbia Street.
— image credit: Mario Bartel/NewsLeader

TransLink has thrown a barricade in front of New Westminster's goal to get trucks off some city streets.

The regional transportation authority has rejected the city's request to eliminate truck traffic from Royal and East Eighth avenues, and on East Columbia from Brunette to Braid. TransLink board of directors made the decision after consulting with the cities of Coquitlam, Surrey, Richmond and Burnaby, the B.C. Trucking Association, Port Metro Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council.

In a statement, TransLink said without any alternative routes or additional capacity on adjacent routes, removing the truck routes would hurt regional movement of goods. It added any decision on removing routes would be premature before a decision on the Pattullo Bridge is made.

"We understand the City of New Westminster's concerns about the impact of truck routes in the community, and we have directed TransLink to work with the city towards a long-term solution that balances goods movement along the north shore of the Fraser River with livability for residents," said TransLink board chair Marcella Szei in the statement.

New Westminster Coun. Bill Harper said he expected TransLink to do more analysis and public consultation since the request was only made a few months ago.

"It looks like they made the decision on some pretty quick analysis," said Harper. "I would hope they would be more open to some real dialogue about the regional transportation network. What they're saying to us is 'Sorry, New West, you're going to have to bear the brunt of all this traffic because we don't want to deal with the extra traffic' [elsewhere in the region]."

Harper, however, was encouraged by TransLink's willingness to work with New West to find a long-term solution.

The decision disappointed Coun. Jonathan Coté, co-chair of the city's master transportation plan task force. He admitted the Royal Avenue request presented a lot of challenges. But, to him, eliminating truck traffic on East Eighth and East Columbia were no brainers because both routes run through residential areas.

"The livability of our community is being impacted by these routes going through our city when there are other routes that make more sense," said Coté. "To me I can't understand why that wouldn't be clear. I just don't think the proper diligence was done, in particular for the smaller requests. Basically we got a knee jerk reaction."

Truck traffic on East Eighth is noisy and dirty according to the president of the Massey/Victory Heights Residents Association. Jason Lesage said many residents have to wipe soot off their patio furniture before sitting down to enjoy nice summer evenings.

Lesage said during afternoon rush hours there's always a long line of Pattullo-bound trucks on East Eighth waiting to turn left onto McBride Boulevard.

"It really needs to be diverted somewhere else. It's a little disappointing to hear TransLink has made that decision," said Lesage.

But Coquitlam transportation planning manager Catherine Mohoruk particularly objected to removal of that route. In her submission to TransLink, Mohoruk said trucks need to be able to get to the Pattullo Bridge during afternoon peak periods. She also said eliminating the routes will increase congestion at the Brunette interchange on Highway 1 and along the Brunette/Lougheed Highway corridor.

The B.C. Trucking Association said removing the routes without providing alternatives would be detrimental to goods movement.

"The proposed truck route changes would force truck traffic onto already-congested adjacent routes, or to make costly and inefficient detours, leading to increased emissions, fuel usages and risk of crashes as exposure risks," said president and CEO Louise Yako in her submission to TransLink.

New Westminster also asked truck traffic on Ewen Avenue east of Derwent Way in Queensborough be removed. The board asked the city to provide more analysis and stakeholder input before making a decision on the request.

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