The latest development in my ongoing investigation into the province’s many P3 projects has been the surfacing of a news release from Transtoll, courtesy of a reliable source, that announces that the company was awarded a contract in June of this year on behalf of the Sea to Sky Highway Limited Partnership, the operator of the Sea to Sky highway.
I broke the story of the hidden shadow tolls on the Sea to Sky a couple of weeks ago, here on the blog. Despite repeated public denials to myself, News 1130 and the Squamish Chief newspaper that shadow tolls exist on the Sea to Sky highway, Transtoll was awarded a technical advisory contract in June of this year, to review both the contract and hardware for the traffic counting hardware currently installed on that highway. The press release can be viewed in full PDF format here: Transtoll_20100601_Sea2Sky
The Ministryof Transportation has been caught in an outright lie. Shadow tolls do exist on the sea to sky, and the road operator has even awarded a contract to Transtoll to make sure the vehicles are being counted accurately. Are they concerned over how much is being payed to the operator every month? A number and payment of which no one is privy to because not only does the goverment deny the shadow tolls exist, they have refused to make public the portions of the concession agreement that reveal the details of how much the operators are being paid per vehicle. And think carefully now, because that is a number and $$ amount that is sure to rise over the years of that 25 year agreement… I assure you, this is a profitable venture for Kiewit, Macquarie et al.
Which now brings me back to the technology that was originally installed on that highway, and the manner of data collection which included licence plate scanners and microwave technology to determine weight, speed and occupants of the vehicle.
The ministry never responded to my queries whether or not that equipment was still in use, a possible breach of privacy if highway users are not aware they are being recorded.
The NDP never came out and publicly commented on this story either.
What else is the government lying about? Was this contract simply handed out as a favor to Transtoll, which happens to be owned by Macquarie Group, one of the concessionaires on the project?
More on this, and other projects, in the days to come.
****Update: Sea to SkyHighway Investment Limited Partnership is the entity operating the sea to sky highway,and I have confirmed that it was in fact the concessionaire that has awarded this contract- which would make it a sub-contracting type of agreement between the two, and the contract was not awarded by the MOT, or the government- per se.
However, sources indicate to me that the MOT did not want to handle this Transtoll contract because of the need to avoid verifying the presence of the shadow toll ( awarding a contract to Transtoll would be questionable, wouldn’t it, considering the MOT has unequivocably stated there are no shadow tolls on this highway?) and so the operator, Sea to Sky Highway Investment Limited Partnership handled the outsourcing of this contract to avoid questions for the MOT.
My sources also indicated there is some concerns as to under/overbilling to the Ministry based on incorrect vehicle counts.
The question then becomes, how much does this new contract add to the cost of the sea to sky highway? Are the highway operators billing the government for it in the end? I contacted the MOT yesterday, but have yet to get a reply on this issue.
The Sea to Sky Shadow Toll series: