Highway Expansion Plans Justified By Economic Benefits

<p>Plans to widen a highway in British Columbia are being justified by a projection of nearly $4 billion in economic development. Proponents are allaying air quality concerns, arguing that auto emission controls will improve enough to reduce any impact.</p>
September 12, 2007, 12pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"The B.C. Liberals have issued a comprehensive defence of their plan to widen Highway 1 and twin the Port Mann Bridge, saying it will bring almost $4 billion in benefits and have a "negligible" impact on regional air quality."

"The Liberals propose to build the estimated $2-billion project via a public-private partnership, with five years of construction and a 35-year operating agreement all financed by tolls on the bridge crossing. The government submission argues the project will benefit the economy through improved movement of goods, commuters through reduced congestion, and the region through improved transportation."

"While that cost-benefit analysis relies on a number of debatable assumptions, the most controversial part of the submission is likely to be the report on regional air quality and greenhouse gas emissions."

"It begins by noting that air quality has improved because of a decline in emissions brought on by better pollution controls on vehicles. The trend is expected to continue, particularly since the province has announced new standards that will reduce tailpipe emissions by 30 per cent by 2020."

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Published on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 in The Vancouver Sun
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