Tuesday, September 11, 2007
VICTORIA - 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 government's case is set out in four volumes of material, released last week as part of an application to the environmental assessment office for approval of the project.
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.
It calculates a net benefit of $3.8 billion over the 35-year operating agreement, even after discounting the cost of construction.
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.