A Massive Conflict of Interest

Oh, what tangled webs we weave……..

The big news today is not the forthcoming announcement by the Premier and Minister of Transportation replacing the aged and decrepit Pattullo Bridge, with a new $1.6 billion bridge, rather it is revelation that so-called due diligence panels of handpicked experts who were hired to review TransLinkai??i??s business cases.

Included in the due diligence panels was a former SNC Lavalin Executive, yet SNC Lavalin hold the Engineering Patents for the ART Innovia proprietary light-metro system! In fact the due diligence panel, to review the TransLink business case for both the Broadway subway and Surrey’s LRT were filled with SkyTrain and light-metro types.

Even more disturbing, no one with any expertise with modern LRT, was on the panel.

As for TransLink’s Business Cases for transit projects, they are a joke, the Evergreen Line’s business case was easily shredded by transit expert Gerald Fox and the business case for the Canada Line allowed a subway to be built with just more than half the capacity needed to justify a subway!

A missive conflict of interest now hangs over both rail transit projects, abetted by Premier Horgan and Minister of Transportation Claire Travena.

The fix is in and with the Broadway Subway and the Surrey LRT, as the recommendations from the due diligence panels were censored from the briefing notes.

As Gerald Fox observed:

So I went back and read the alleged ai???Business Caseai??? (BC) report in a little more detail. I found several instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain. If the underlying assumptions are inaccurate, the conclusions may be so too.

And concluded:

It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.

Common sense would derail both projects immediately, but building transit was never about common sense, it was and is by political diktat from the Premier’s Office; to build what the premier wants built. What the premier wants built is the political deal he or she cut with SNC Lavalin and Bombardier Inc. the patent holders of the proprietary ALRT/ART Innovia light-metro system.

This is the stuff how FastFerry fiascos begin!

Exclusive: A new Pattullo Bridge for $1.6B, but Broadway Subway and Surrey LRT costs remain secret

Bob Mackin

The cost of the new Pattullo Bridge is pegged at $1.6 billion, according to a mid-October briefing note to the NDP minister responsible for TransLink.

Premier John Horgan, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson will green light the New Westminster-to-Surrey spanner on Feb. 16. They are expected to announce the government, not TransLink, will be responsible for replacing the decaying 80-year-old bridge. A source close to the project also told theBreaker that the contract to build the new bridge is expected to include a community benefits clause that may require, among other things, a quota of aboriginal apprentices.

Aritstai??i??s rendering of the new Pattullo Bridge (TransLink)

The briefing note, obtained by theBreaker under the freedom of information law, was written after the government received TransLinkai??i??s business case for the new four-lane bridge, which would be expandable to six lanes. Jan. 1, 2023 would be the target for opening.

ai???The Mayorsai??i?? Vision indicated that the bridge replacement would cost approximately $980 million,ai??? said the briefing note to Robinson. ai???TransLink currently estimates the Pattullo Bridge replacement would cost approximately $1.6 billion.ai???

The project is not eligible for funding from the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, but TransLink was exploring options with the federal infrastructure bank and Trade Transportation Corridor Initiative. Horgan and Trevena threw TransLink a curveball last summer when they kept a campaign promise and abolished tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.

ai???TransLink is also looking for a subsidy to replace the tolls that were eliminated Sept. 1,ai??? said the briefing note. ai???The transit authority had been counting on tolls to pay for up to two-thirds of the cost of the new Pattullo, which was estimated at about $1 billion in 2014. The amount of the subsidy has not been determined.ai???

Late last year, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan was voted to replace Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson as chair of the Mayorsai??i?? Council and a member of the TransLink board of directors. Corrigan suggested the Pattullo be the top priority, before TransLink builds the Broadway subway or Surrey light rail transit.

The cost estimates for the two rail projects were censored from the documents provided to theBreaker. However, one of the briefing notes was created Dec. 14 and quotes a Dec. 13 story by theBreaker about the ongoing cost secrecy.

Under the heading ai???Escalating Costs,ai??? an aide to Robinson summarized theBreaker story that was headlinedAi?? ai???Mayors got secret update last year on TransLink mega project costs, but kept public in the dark,ai???

ai???The story is based on internal documents released through FOI that suggest the estimated costs for the megaprojects have risen significantly. Final costs will not be determined until TransLink submits its final business cases and will be shared publicly when they are approved (estimated late February).ai???

In 2014, the Surrey project was estimated at $2.21 billion and Broadway $1.98 billion. TransLink warned that costs have increased due to rising costs of property, labour, materials and equipment.

A briefing note said that $300,000 is being spent on so-called due diligence panels of handpicked experts who were hired to review TransLinkai??i??s business cases. The panels were struck in January 2017 to review what is officially called the Surrey L Line and the Millennium Line Broadway Extension.

ai???The focus of each panel was to review current alignment, geotechnical considerations, design and methods of construction; property acquisition; costs estimates; and formation and content of business case in relation to Treasury Board expectations,ai??? the briefing note said.

Former SNC-Lavalin executive vice-president James Burke and ex-B.C. Deputy Finance Minister Peter Milburn are on both panels. Engineer Les Elliott is the third member of the Surrey panel, while veteran SkyTrain construction engineer and transit tunnelling specialist Jeff Hewitt are on the Broadway panel.

Their recommendations were censored from the briefing notes.

GCP-2017-74550-Mackin.pdf by BobMackin on Scribd

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