Province ramping up towing to clear bridges between North Shore and Vancouver while ruling out third span

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Richard Zussman, Global News – October 25th

The provincial government is ruling out a third span across the Burrard Inlet, while increasing funding for bigger tow tracks to help ease congestion.

An additional third fixed crossing across the Burrard inlet would have provided another option for cars and diverted them away from the Lions Gate and Iron Workers bridges.

“While a third crossing might reduce travel times temporarily, in the he long run it does not actually help the North Shore. In fact what it can actually do is make congestion worse on local roadways because you are bringing more vehicle volume into areas of the municipality that cannot handle it,” said North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma.

“[A] Gondola didn’t quite make the cut. But that being said, the report didn’t necessarily focus on technology.”

The Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project report was released in August. In response to the report, the province has decided to provide more support to clearing stalled vehicles off the spans rather than actually looking at a new span.

New requirements coming into effect in November will increase standby hours for tow trucks and identify the type of tow trucks stationed at both crossings. The changes will ensure a large wrecker is available for removing commercial vehicles and buses.

The changes will help clear vehicles faster, so people spend less time stuck in traffic when there is a flat tire, fender bender or other minor incident.

“The recently released Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project report clearly highlights the need for expedited incident clearing measures,” said Ma.

“Having additional hours for tow trucks stationed at the Lions Gate and Ironworkers’ Memorial bridges means that these vital North Shore crossings can be put back into service more quickly following disruptive vehicle incidents.”

But the changes will not do anything during police situations or major crashes. Still the additional support is being applauded by those who commute to and from the North Shore.

“As someone who commutes to the North Shore twice daily it becomes challenging if a truck has mechanical problems it will sit there for hours and the back up will be there for hours,” said Greg Holmes, executive director of the Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Association.

“Most people who don’t live on the North Shore have a 3:00 p.m. where if you aren’t out of here by then you should stay for dinner.”

The working group, made up of politicians from the provincial, federal and municipal level, also looked at building gondolas between Phibbs Exchange, Capilano University and Maplewood. It is something for now that is also off the table.

“While gondolas can play a role for transportation in cities, especially where there are difficult physical barriers, our analysis shows that the costs of this technology would be high. The analysis also showed that a gondola would not create considerable travel time savings compared with using buses on the existing roads, and it would require an additional transfer for most customers,” reads the report. “This idea could be reviewed again if the road reliability in the area deteriorates significantly. “