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Annacis Island businesses cheer as NDP axes bridge tolls

Click to play video: 'Annacis Island traffic woes frustrates local buisnesses' Annacis Island traffic woes frustrates local buisnesses
July 2016: Annacis Island traffic woes frustrates local buisnesses – Jul 21, 2016

The tolls come off the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges at midnight, and businesses on Delta’s Annacis Island are breathing a sigh of relief.

Companies based on the island have long complained of traffic bottlenecks created by commuters using the Alex Fraser Bridge as a means of dodging the tolls.

LISTEN: How will Annacis Island be impacted by the end of tolls on the Port Mann Bridge?
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READ MORE: Annacis Island businesses vent as traffic gridlock worsens

Speaking on CKNW’s The Simi Sara Show, president of Neutron Factory Works Rick Gibbs said he’s anticipating a big change in the gridlock.

“I have to believe that. I travel the routes continuously as do our staff, as do our customers. And my suspicion is that it’s going to redirect a lot of traffic that comes over the Pattullo and Alex Fraser.”

READ MORE: Annacis Island traffic woes frustrates local businesses

Gibbs began pushing the former BC Liberal Government last fall to lower or drop the tolls, which he said were killing businesses in the area.

“There are lots of … large, large logistics companies down here, refrigerated foods, a lot of employees. And I know just for our company that people wouldn’t show up for interviews if they saw the [Annacis Island] heading. A lot of people quit, a lot of businesses moved.”

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Gibbs said he’s not opposed to tolling as a policy to pay for infrastructure, but said it was unfair to target a specific subset of commuters.

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With the tolls gone, he said the government now has a chance to step back and look at a broader, more equitable plan — something like “a buck a bridge” for all drivers.

READ MORE: New interchange in Delta hopes to decrease traffic congestion on Alex Fraser Bridge

As for whether the change will ease the pressure on his business come Friday?

“I think it will, for sure. I have to believe that. I travel continually, as do my staff, as do our customers. We’re going to know real fast.”

Marian Ghioda, the owner of Annacis Island Pawnbrokers, says he set his store hours later so he would miss the morning rush.

“If everything goes back to normal, maybe we can start opening earlier too. We only open at 10 a.m. just because of the traffic on the bridge. But it’s going to take a while to see if it’s stabilizing.”

“Our base customers come in the evening just after six,” he adds, “but now hopefully it’s going to make a difference and let them just fly in during the day too.”

With files from Kyle Benning

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