YEAR IN REVIEW: Tax hike boosts Evergreen
The long-promised $1.4-billion Burnaby-to-Coquitlam Evergreen Line line went from ridicule to reality in 2011 when regional mayors voted in favour of a 2-cent-a-litre gas tax hike.
The decision, which brings TransLink gas taxes to 17 cents a litre in April, was simply swallowed by voters and the gas tax was a non-issue in the civic election, even though polls showed little support for a fuel tax hike.
Extra funds generated by the tax and the promise of another $30 million in as yet undecided levies put the stalled project back on the rails and in December the province announced some pre-construction work would start in January.
Several other transportation projects also made the news in 2011:
• The King Edward Overpass was completed in October, opening up United Boulevard once again to shoppers. Coquitlam contributed $7.7 million toward the project, which is part of the Port Mann Highway 1 upgrade. The Beedie Group, which is developing the Fraser Mills site, has contributed $500,000 for finishing details. A grand opening is planned in the new year.
• Port Moody councillors plan a visioning workshop with TransLink in early 2012 on the future of the Murray-Clarke corridor after TransLink pushed it off its priority list.
• Some of the options being considered for the route include slowing traffic using roundabouts, installing bike lanes and treed medians, or improving flow with an extra lane for cars and making the Moody Street overpass one-way during rush hour.
• The $3.3 billion Port Mann Highway 1 project completed the halfway mark in August. The Cape Horn interchange alone will see the development of 15 new or rebuilt overpasses and underpasses. In December, 2012, the Port Mann bridge is expected to open with eight of 10 lanes. Drivers will pay about $3 per car to cross, with larger vehicles paying more.
• January: January installation of underground BC Hydro power lines along the route alignment in Port Moody and Coquitlam.
• April: motorists will pay 2 cents a litre more in gas taxes (total 17 cents per litre) to raise $40 million a year of $70 million needed to fund transportation plan and Evergreen Line.
• Summer: A builder will be selected. The choices are: EL Partners, Kiewit/Flatiron Evergreen Line and SNC-Lavalin Inc.
• Opening date: summer of 2016.