British Columbia to Invest $25 Billion in Infrastructure to Capture More Asian Trade

Prince Rupert Image - Handout, Vancouver Sun

Public and private funding totaling $25 billion will be invested over the next eight years in British Columbia (B.C.) infrastructure to sustain and increase the province’s trade with Asia.  The province’s ports and Canadian railways move goods from Asia into the U.S. Midwest as well as Canada.

B.C.’s Premier Christy Clark said the investment is “needed to increase trucking capacity on highways, rail capacity along existing rail corridors, air cargo movement, and both bulk and container terminal capacity at marine ports in Vancouver and Prince Rupert” (“$25 billion over 8 years to improve B.C. overseas trade,” CBC News).

“Only” $7 billion will be directed to transportation infrastructure; the remainder will be spent on natural gas infrastructure.  The primary transportation investments are:

  • $3.8 billion to increase bulk and container terminal capacity at ports in B.C., including the Province’s $50-million commitment to the Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project; and
  • $3.1 billion to increase major road and rail capacity, including new provincial investment of $700 million in B.C.’s major trade corridors and the Prince Rupert Road Rail Utility Corridor announced in the BC Jobs Plan .

Another $2.8 billion will be invested in rail by CN and Canadian Pacific.

Last February the Canadian federal government announced a $15 million investment in a British Columbia Port of Prince Rupert project.  The $90 million Ridley Island Road, Rail and Utility Corridor  project is a public private partnership which is funded also by CN railway, Prince Rupert Port Authority and the provincial government.  Learn more from our story, “Canada Invests Again to Capture More Asian Trade.”

The new Pacific Gateway Transportation Strategy reflects “a commitment to the most significant economic expansion opportunity in a generation”, according to Louise Yako, the British Columbia Trucking Association President and CEO (“$700-million Spend Gets Truckers’ Nod,” Today’s  The Pacific Gateway Transportation Strategy 2012-2020 explains a plan “to expand British Columbia’s world-class transportation network, strengthen our infrastructure to get our goods to market and generate sustainable economic growth.”

Once again we are seeing the results of the Canadian “National Policy Framework for Strategic Gateways and Trade Corridors,” adopted years ago, which helps target investments to projects that would expand trade and economic opportunities for its businesses and citizens.  The plan created a “system and merit based—rather than modal—approach to transportation, infrastructure, policy, investment and marketing.”

In Washington state, British Columbia’s trading partner and competitor, the legislature earlier this year rejected a $3.68 billion, two-year transportation improvement proposal and enacted a $187 million two-year spending plan. That $3.68 billion proposal had been pared down from a $21 billion, ten-year transportation recommendation from a blue ribbon committee.  And that was pared down from the committee’s finding that the ten-year need is closer to $50 billion.

In Washington D.C., about $5 billion of port infrastructure improvement funds sit unallocated by the White House and Congress (“Feds Sit On $5 billion While Harbor Maintenance Needs Go Unmet”).  Meanwhile, Congress continues to debate the need for a national freight strategy, and question the value of funding national significant freight projects that could improve our economy and sustain jobs. Learn more from our story, “WANTED – A National Freight Strategy”.

Northwest U.S. ports have been concerned for some time about the Canadian investment in its west coast ports.  See Feds to Study Why U.S.-Bound Cargo is Diverting to Canadian, Mexican Ports for a short overview.

We’re already seeing a “slow but noticeable shift” in container traffic from U.S. west coast ports to Canadian and Mexican west coast ports, according to a 2011 study from the Southern California Association of Governments (Port Activity and Competitiveness Tracker Progress Report, February 2011).

While Nero fiddles. . . .


To learn more:

WANTED – A National Freight Strategy

More Evidence Points to Need for National Freight Strategy, Investment

British Columbia to Invest $25 Billion in Infrastructure to Capture More Asian Trade

Canada Invests Again to Capture More Asian Trade

Feds to Study Why U.S.-Bound Cargo is Diverting to Canadian, Mexican Ports

Trade – What it Means for Jobs, How it Depends on Transportation Network

2 Key Freight Elements in House Transportation Bill

Senate Bill Will Improve Freight Mobility and Economic Vitality

A 2007 report on Canada’s Strategic Gateways and Trade Corridors Plan (16-page pdf)



B.C. rolls out new $700 million road, rail plan,” Vancouver Sun

$25 billion over 8 years to improve B.C. overseas trade,” CBC News