Wednesday, June 22, 2005
re. Valley Inn Bridge EA
Transportation for Liveable Communities is a volunteer working group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at McMaster University. TLC seeks to improve conditions and infrastructure that supports and actively encourages healthy and sustainable transportation modes, including walking, transit, cycling and car pooling.
Car Free areas, especially adjacent to significant environmental areas like the Harbour and Grindstone Creek are an aspect of liveable communities, giving citizens and tourists access to tranquil natural areas while limiting negative environmental impacts of automobile traffic: "Traffic safety, traffic noise and local air pollution, affordability, impervious surface coverage (i.e., the portion of land devoted to roads and parking), preservation of environmental and cultural structures, and opportunities for recreation are all livability factors." (Litman, http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm97.htm)
As Smart Growth initiatives and in-fill begin to re-shape our cities, we need to protect and enhance the valuable natural assets we have. The Harbour, and in particular the area at the mouth of Grindstone Creek, is a natural asset to be enjoyed by the local community and visitors to the region. Making areas of environmental sensitivity more attractive by limiting car traffic would be a boost for the entire region, both in terms of limiting pollution and road/bridge repair/maintenance costs locally, and more broadly, in terms of city image as an attractive and beautiful city with easy access to car-free natural areas.
Valley Inn Road already serves as an important link in the regional cycling network, and lends itself to low impact transportation options suggested by the car-free option. The cycling and pedestrian environment would be made safer by restricting automobile traffic.
The prohibitive financial costs of maintaining, replacing and/or upgrading the bridge, plus the likely negative cost to the natural area due to such construction, should be seen as an opportunity for ecological enhancement with beneficial impacts for human and non-human species. "From an ecological perspective this could be called the principle of least effort....the idea that maximum environmental, economic and social benefits are available from minimum resources and energy." (Hough, Michael. The City and Natural Process, 18)
The minuscule amount of automobile traffic using the road will not be negatively impacted since such traffic is well served by nearby roads.
TLC would like to see the Valley Inn bridge maintained as a pedestrian and cyclist link, while closing the bridge to automobile traffic.
Thanks for your attention to this matter. Please don't hesitate to contact TLC with any questions or concerns.