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New Westminster trucker suggests ban on heavy vehicles

The City of New Westminster had hoped to removed Royal Avenue from the region
The City of New Westminster had hoped to removed Royal Avenue from the region's list of truck routes.
— image credit: Mario Bartel/NewsLeader

Dave Tate is one New Westminster resident who doesn't agree with city council's position that trucks should be banned from three of its streets.

But he has a solution to ease the nightmare.

TransLink recently rejected the Royal City's request to remove Royal Avenue, East Eighth Avenue and East Columbia Street as truck routes.

City council believes the livability for residents along those routes is being affected by the heavy truck traffic. The city made the request because it believes more trucks are travelling through New West to use the Pattullo Bridge and avoid tolls on the Port Mann.

"I've lived in New Westminster for more than 40 years and I've seen how the traffic has changed. It has increased yes, but to remove it from a truck route would be absolutely ridiculous," said Tate, a commercial truck driver. "The trucks have to go somewhere. They would clog Front Street up."

His solution is to ban trucks with three-axle trailers from using the Pattullo because they're the heaviest on the road.

"That would diminish the truck traffic coming across that bridge dramatically," said Tate.

If his rule was instituted it would require enforcement.

New Westminster is in the midst of making a move to curb violators of current regulations. The city has hired a couple of commercial vehicle inspectors for the task. They're still being trained but the dedicated unit is expected to be up and running by September, said Coun. Jaimie McEvoy.

Currently the city runs a monthly spot check that requires coordination with several agencies.

"Truckers will get the message 'make sure your vehicle is safe or don't go to New Westminster,' " said McEvoy. "We have to see the results. Restricting the traffic routes would have been an effective way of limiting the effects on New Westminster residents. So we're going to try a different way. It may not be as effective but we'll see."

Tate said the ultimate solution is to either scrap the tolls or toll all the crossings.

"That would even the playing field."

Tate sees many trucks load up at the CN container facility near the east end of the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) at 176th Street in Surrey. But instead of making the quick connection to Highway 1 and the Port Mann Bridge, they head down SFPR toward the Pattullo to avoid the $9 toll. He doesn't understand why because the detour costs time and fuel.

"I don't understand the reasoning of taking the perimeter road," said Tate. "My boss told me if it's convenient take the tolled bridge. [The Port Mann is] the appropriate bridge for where you're going to."

When the TransLink decision was announced Queen's Park Residents Association president David Brett contacted TransLink board chair Marcella Szel. He understood some of her explanation, but not all.

"They've deferred any decision on truck routes because it will have to be revisited anyway when the Pattullo Bridge decisions are made. I can see the logic in that," said Brett. "On the other hand, I think it is totally reasonable to have a truck ban in the meantime to give residents relief.

"I think they could have put a pause on our truck traffic even if just temporarily to see what would happen. They could do a million simulations but there's nothing like trying it out and seeing what would happen. The assumption is the trucks would have nowhere to go, but you don't know 100 per cent until you try it."

McEvoy said waiting for the fate of the Pattullo Bridge could take a while. Meantime, New Westminster residents will continue to suffer.

"Any construction on the Pattullo Bridge might happen sometime in the next decade. The idea we don't look at what's happening right now on our roads is just silly. They (TransLink) control what happens on New Westminster roads," said McEvoy. "That rationale is not a very solid rationale."

In a letter to New Westminster council, Szel said the three routes are "critical components of the existing truck route network and removing them would have negative impacts to the movement of goods.

"The removal of East Eighth Avenue would eliminate the only direct route for trucks traveling from Highway 1 and Coquitlam to the Pattullo Bridge during the afternoon peak period when the ramp from Columbia Street southbound to the bridge is closed. The removal of Royal Avenue would force truck traffic to divert to a longer route along 10th Avenue or onto Front Street which carries the highest percentage of truck traffic in the entire region and currently operates at, or beyond, capacity. The removal of East Columbia Street would divert trucks to or from North Road to Braid Street, a steep and congested alternative."

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