When the pandemic arrived and completely overturned our daily lives, many of us longed for a return to the “old normal.”
Then, starting sometime in July, they came back – daily afternoon traffic jams emanating from the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing. Stats from the end of July show the average number of weekday crossings is just 5.9 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. Be careful what you wish for.
But there is nuance in the numbers. We don’t know if this is a sign of our economy returning to normal or if there is something else at play. We suspect a lot of the congestion is due to people coming here for recreation. Our provincial, regional and municipal parks have been seeing record numbers of visitors. The ferries are churning out boatloads of staycationers and, anecdotally, it seems every third vehicle on the highway has a kayak or mountain bike on its roof rack.
We welcome the news this week that the $198-million Lower Lynn Improvement Project is entering its final phase. It’s been a long slog. When it’s online, it should reduce the number of crashes and maybe free up a bit of capacity.
We dared dream that the sudden uptake of telecommuting would be the mythical silver bullet for our traffic problem and the carbon that comes with it. But you can’t lay bricks or change an IV via Zoom. As long as we continue to rely on the Fraser Valley to house our workforce, the benefits of the highway project will be short lived.
The best and only lasting solution to traffic is to get people out of their cars, and that can’t be done by spending money on highways.
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