The Lions Gate Bridge “bump” being blamed for this week’s traffic nightmare and transit disarray should be fixed by Friday morning, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Crews installed the 4.5-centimetre plate at the south end of the bridge to accommodate maintenance work being done on the bridge’s joints underneath. But cars and buses slamming on their brakes led to a chain reaction that choked traffic in all directions for kilometers.
To avoid the mess, TransLink rerouted its 240, 241, 246 and 247 buses to the SeaBus but with only two SeaBuses on the water, crowds were lined up well outside the terminal at peak periods. TransLink announced shortly before noon on Thursday that a third SeaBus, which had been receiving scheduled maintenance, would be in service for the afternoon rush hour, and that regular service should resume by Friday.
To fix the mess, ministry crews are in effect flattening out the Lions Gate bump by building a longer and smoother transition over the bridge joint.
“The work will include widening the cover area by an additional six feet (about three feet on each side), and placing more rubber surfacing over the metal plates,” said Sonia Lowe, the ministry’s public affairs officer. “We regret that the design of the bump that was in place earlier in the week created issues and delays for those using the bridge and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to resolve this issue and get the traffic moving more smoothly,” she added.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone was not taking calls on the matter Thursday.
City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto said he was on the receiving end of complaints from commuters.
“I get the phone calls and I’m as frustrated as the drivers because I can’t do anything about it,” he said. “The bridges are already at such a high capacity, all you need is one little mishap and it just shuts the system down.”
The best solution to the traffic, Mussatto said, would be increasing transit service to beckon more people out of their cars — like the three B-Lines, 10-minute SeaBus service and an increase in regular bus service the North Shore would have received if the TransLink vote had passed.
“You reduce the amount of automobiles on the road by two to three per cent, you get a 10 to 15 per cent reduction in congestion,” he said. “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel because the referendum was shot down so it’s going to be more of the same for years.”