British Columbia

Congestion from overpass repair increases costs for commuters, economist says

Economists with Canada’s Ecofiscal Commision say congestion caused by these unexpected closures can cost time and money for commuters.

Ministry of Transportation says it does not have an estimate for how much repairs will cost

Crews worked overnight to stabilize the overpass after a semi truck crashed into it on Monday. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

A crash that caused significant damage to a highway overpass in Surrey on Dec. 4 has forced the major roadway down to single lane traffic.

The driver of a truck struck the 152nd Street overpass at Highway 99, causing substantial damage.

The costs to the driver? Just under $500 in fines for driving without due care and without an over-height vehicle permit.

The costs to commuters however, may be much greater.

According to Dale Bugin with Canada's Ecofiscal Commision, congestion caused by these surprise closures can take a toll on commuters' time and fuel.

"Let's be honest, the Lower Mainland is a pretty congested jurisdiction … there is a lot of traffic and a lot of time lost," he said.

RCMP said the driver was fined for driving without due care and attention, as well as for driving without an overheight permit. (Gary Hanney/CBC)

Wasted time and fuel

In Vancouver, Bugin said congestion costs commuters billions of dollars every year.

"They are spending more time by having to take a detour or not moving at all ... that is lost time for that individual," he said.

As for what repairing the overpass is going to cost, the ministry said it's still developing an estimate.

"As we develop a repair plan, we'll start to have a better idea of what we're looking at," said Kellen Truant, bridge area manager with the Ministry of Transportation.

Police said a similar accident on Highway 10 near Ladner Trunk Road took several months to repair.

The ministry said it will be working with ICBC on a claim to recover the costs of the damage, after the repairs are complete.

The truck was "clearly" too tall to fit under the concrete pass, according to RCMP. (Gary Hanney)