Now you see it, now you don’t.
That’s one of those Canada’s Economic Action Plan signs that became part of the Canadian landscape during the rule of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Until very recently, this one stood on West First in North Vancouver, by Pemberton Avenue, a short walk from the vacant lot where the BC Rail station stood before the 2013 B.C. election. (Yes, that BC Rail, the one the BC Liberals sold to CN Rail under scandalous circumstances.)
The infrastructure spending spree signs are disappearing, one-by-one, as projects started under the previous Conservative government get finished under the new Liberal one.
But that’s not the sign that mattered.
The one beside it, also gone, said that the Philip Avenue Overpass would be finished in fall 2015. When I drove by July 1, only metal posts remained where the signs were once erected.
For those keeping score, fall 2015 began on Sept. 23 and ended Dec. 21.
This blog post is dated July 4, 2016. The project is as much as nine months late.
I noticed last weekend that lines were painted on the bridge, which was semi-protected by a fence. The politicians arrive for a photo opportunity on July 5. Which one will dare repeat the traditional “on-time, on-budget” falsehood?
Construction crews, under the eye of project manager Binnie, should have been down the home stretch toward completion last fall. But, on Nov. 18, 2015, according to the District of North Vancouver website, they installed the steel archway. That meant they could begin work on the decking.
Funny enough, the same website about the project doesn’t show budget or cost information. In 2014, it was supposed to be $13.4 million federal, $10 million provincial, $400,000 North Vancouver District, $4.2 million CN Rail and $2.1 million Kinder Morgan.
One of the funding partners is the Province of British Columbia, which wants to build a $3.5 billion bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel and it wants to spend nearly $9 billion on the BC Hydro Site C dam. BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark wants the federal Liberals to help fund both projects. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is running a $30 billion deficit, three times what was promised, for an infrastructure spending spree to rival the Conservatives.
That’s the same BC Liberal government that won’t come clean on the cost overruns for the Evergreen Line. The troubled SkyTrain extension won’t open as scheduled this month, but sometime in early 2017, we are told.
I await an official explanation for the late delivery. But the Philip Avenue Overpass is a relatively simple bridge over six railway tracks that was supposed to cost $30 million. If governments hungry to spend your money on infrastructure can’t get simple builds done on time, then what schedule and cost surprises await the 10-lane bridge over the Fraser River, between Richmond and Delta or the mega-dam that will force flooding of the Peace River Valley?
While you ponder that question, rewind to fall 2014, when the federal Conservatives and BC Liberals announced in a news release that the North Vancouver project was underway.
October 17, 2014 – North Vancouver, British Columbia – Transport Canada
Construction of the new Philip Avenue overpass south of West 1st Street in North Vancouver is now underway. The project was made possible through a partnership between the federal, provincial and municipal governments and private-sector partners.
The new overpass in the North Shore Trade Area (NSTA) will decrease traffic congestion and improve safety by eliminating the at-grade rail crossing. The project will make it possible to ship products through the area using longer trains, and will reduce rail-car switching noise, shunting and whistles. It will also improve the flow of up to 3,500 vehicles that pass through the area daily, including traffic bound for marine terminals, local businesses, and the Norgate community.
•Construction of the Philip Avenue Overpass is expected to be completed in the fall of 2015.
•The new overpass will cross the rail tracks at Philip Avenue, with a loop ramp on the south side to connect to McKeen Avenue and a straight ramp on the north side to connect to West 1st Street.