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Dec 14,2007 Tri City News

By Jeff Nagel - The Tri-City News - December 14, 2007
There’s cash for the connector.

As one of its final acts before its dissolution, the TransLink board Wednesday approved going to final design and construction in 2008 on the four-lane Murray-Clarke Connector, a major regional traffic bottleneck in Port Moody.

The route should free up congestion for Tri-City commuters who take the Barnet Highway west towards Burnaby and Vancouver.

The departing TransLink directors, at their final meeting Wednesday, voted in favour of Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini’s motion to advance the project. The budget is set at $50 million, with Port Moody to cover $4 million as well as any overruns in excess of the budget.

Some directors questioned whether Trasolini had a formal resolution from Port Moody council to accept future overruns.

But, after the meeting, he said, “I have council behind me on this — no question.

“I can’t tell you what goes on in camera [but] I wouldn’t be up there saying what I said without council behind me.”

Earlier estimates pegged the cost at $25 million but it’s thought that will have doubled by next year.

The decision followed a long list of delegations demanding a speedy start to the long-delayed Murray-Clarke Connector.

“Right from Mission down, it’s going to affect everybody,” Port Moody Coun. Bob Elliott told board members. “Please do the right thing.”

Many feared TransLink would cut the project’s overpass from four lanes to two in order to save $10 million and said that would be a waste of money.

Time is of the essence, the TransLink board heard, because project costs could climb $6 million to $7 million per year if there are further delays.

Vancouver Coun. Suzanne Anton was reluctant to rule out the two-lane overpass option. She also said she’s disappointed the Murray-Clarke Connector is essentially a road expansion solution to accommodate car traffic.

“Why does Port Moody feel obliged to address other people’s developments that impact traffic?” she asked.

Port Moody resident JoAnne Parneta, a former city councillor, countered the northeast sector has long been denied a rapid transit line despite provincial government promises that money would come from its sale of the Westwood Plateau lands.

“We’re still waiting,” she said, noting growth in that part of Coquitlam is fuelling car traffic.

The board agreed to the resolution specifying a four-lane connector after TransLink CEO Pat Jacobsen said staff agree it should be four lanes.

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