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Toll crossing aimed at truckers

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Truckers are being targeted by a group building a $600-million toll bridge or bridge-tunnel comb...

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Truckers are being targeted by a group building a $600-million toll bridge or bridge-tunnel combination across the Fraser River between Langley and Maple Ridge.

The toll bridge will be the first toll crossing in the province in more than 40 years, and it is becoming more of a reality. TransLink communications director, Ken Hardie, recently told local media that the crossing is being built primarily for truck traffic.

“It’s been part of the regional plan for quite some time,” he says. “It will replace the Albion ferry, which can’t keep up with demand, and it will significantly reduce the travel time from north of the Fraser to the ports.”

TransLink has approved spending up to $13 million on land purchases and studies, which further indicates they are serious about the proposal. A $6-average toll will be applied to trucks once the crossing is complete, as early as 2006. That compares to a $2 toll for cars and light vehicles. Electronic transponders would be issued to help calculate tolls.

TransLink chairman, Doug McCallum, says he thinks the toll crossing will be welcomed by drivers.

“I’m a great believer in tolls,” McCallum tells local media. “But tolls can only be (imposed) on brand new structures and tolls can only be on structures where people have a choice. They can go across that new bridge, or they can take another route and it’s free. The new bridge may be a lot safer and it saves time, so people are willing to pay a toll.”

The B.C. Automobile Association has been quick to throw its support behind the project.

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