Gateway roads to get $700 million more
Premier Christy Clark visited a North Vancouver bulk shipping terminal Monday to announce $700 million in new highway upgrades to develop B.C.'s Pacific Gateway program.
The announcement didn't include details of new highway upgrades, beyond current projects such as the Port Mann-Highway 1 expansion and the South Fraser Perimeter Road, a truck route to port facilities in South Delta.
A news release refers to further Highway 1 improvements between Kamloops and the Alberta border. Specific provincial project announcements are promised in the weeks to come.
Instead the premier's event focused on private sector investments from the host company Neptune Terminals and others, which are gearing up to meet demand from Asian customers.
"Neptune Terminals' strategic investments have resulted in record terminal exports of potash and steel-making coal, a 20-per-cent increase in jobs at our terminals, and significant additional growth to come as we complete our expansions," said Neptune president James Belsheim.
Teck Resources CEO Don Lindsay also took part in the event, reviewing the mining company's $1 billion investment over the last two years to expand production of metallurgical coal, copper and zinc.
Jock Findlayson of the Business Council of B.C. said the province's exports to China grew by 27 per cent in 2011 alone, and shipments of coal, minerals and forest products to Asia are expected to double by 2020.
NDP transportation critic Harry Baines dismissed the announcement as the latest media event staged by Clark to promote her jobs plan.
"There are no specific details where this money is going to go," Bains said of the provincial contribution. "It's more about a photo op than getting their hands dirty to have a real job plan for British Columbians."
Bains said $700 million over five years is $140 million a year. At $5 million per kilometre, that amounts to 28 km of new or expanded per year, he said.
The B.C. government's February budget says the province's total contribution to the South Fraser Perimeter Road will be $1.06 billion when it is complete in the summer of 2014.
The Port Mann-Highway 1 expansion is budgeted for completion by the winter of 2013, with a total cost of more than $3.3 billion. That is to be paid down through tolls of about $3 for cars and $9 for heavy trucks.