Community Bands Together to Halt Freeway Expansion


Photo credit: Claus Rebler via Flickr/CC BY-SA

Concerned citizens in Vancouver vociferously spoke out against a proposed $175 million highway extension. The extension would have added new on-ramps to an already congested highway, and was being jointly pursued along with multibillion dollar highway widening efforts. But the community banded together to oppose the project, which they saw not only a waste of public funds, but as a needless contributor to increased pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

I wish we heard stories like this more often (via

On Thursday (May 19), a large and determined group of New Westminster residents gathered to find out what design TransLink would be pushing for the first section of the North Fraser Perimeter Road. Instead, the crowd burst into boisterous applause when Sany Zein, TransLink's director of roads, announced that TransLink would cancel the North Fraser Perimeter Road portion of the Gateway Program because local residents and New Westminster council would not support it.

New Westminster residents have proved a force to be reckoned with. Mayor Wayne Wright referred to the first NFPR open house as "a donnybrook"--slang for a mass brawl. It was this outspoken opposition that forced provincially controlled TransLink to back off on the United Boulevard extension, the first phase of the NFPR in New Westminster. If they had proceeded it would have cost about $175 million for a short stub of freeway and an overpass that would feed more traffic onto the already congested New Westminster street network.

Beautiful. Bad public infrastructure proposals aren't always the easiest things to get people riled up about, and it's good to see people turning out to oppose policies that promote unsustainable sprawl and unnecessary pollution.

It's also a reminder that here in the US, at least two high profile governors have proposed massive new highway expansion projects -- and one of them rejected high speed rail funding to do so. Could we ever hope to muster a similar opposition here in the states?

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