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British Columbia Further delays hamper B.C.'s Massey Tunnel replacement

Vehicles enter and exit the Richmond end of the Massey Tunnel that connects Richmond and Delta, B.C., on Sept. 11, 2017.

DARRYL DYCK/For The Globe and Mail

More study and consultation are needed before the provincial government can determine how to replace the aging Massey Tunnel and it will likely be almost two years before a plan is completed, B.C.'s Transportation Minister said Monday.

Claire Trevena said the NDP government is looking at a smaller crossing than the 10-lane bridge the Liberals had signed off on as well as improvements to the existing tunnel.

“A 10-lane bridge is really the wrong project,” she said during a news conference. "It’s been very clear from communities up to this point that they did not want a 10-lane bridge.”

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The province cancelled the former Liberal government’s multibillion-dollar, 10-lane bridge project shortly after the NDP formed government last year. Bridge construction was expected to be finished by 2022 and more than $100-million had already been spent on the engineering.

The Massey Tunnel is known to create significant traffic congestion for commuters. An independent technical review released Monday found the proposed 10-lane bridge, located south of Vancouver between Richmond and Delta over the Fraser River, exceeded what is necessary to lessen current congestion. However, it did not find issue with the engineering of the project.

The report recommends a smaller six-to-eight-lane bridge, or a six-to-eight-lane undersea tunnel. Creating a new tunnel in conjunction with the current Massey Tunnel, after retrofitting, is also an option.

Ms. Trevena, the Minister of Transportation, told reporters that the government will consult with local First Nations; TransLink, the regional transportation authority; and municipalities from January to April, 2019. They intend to have a business plan completed by 2020, she says.

“Had the options been carefully and objectively considered before the 10-lane bridge project, we would be much closer to solving the congestion in a way that works for everyone who lives, works and travels in the region,” Ms. Trevena said.

She said Delta was the only municipality to support the Liberals' bridge project. Ms. Trevena said it didn’t address livability and cost concerns. She said the smaller six-to-eight-lane bridge would accommodate the majority of traffic predicted by 2045.

But Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said the NDP’s alternatives are short-sighted. B.C. residents are used to the idea that the province’s population is growing, he said.

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“We’ve got to build infrastructure for the next century, not the next 25 years,” Mr. Wilkinson said.

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of B.C. president Keith Sashaw said the proximity of the highway through Massey Tunnel to the U.S. border and Greater Vancouver’s future population should be considered when planning an infrastructure change such as a new bridge or tunnel.

george massey

project review

An indepedent review of the George

Massey crossing project has determined

that a reduced project scope would better

align with community planning goals.

The NDP says the original proposed

10-lane bridge project exceeds what is

necessary to decrease current congestion

at the George Massey crossing.

Vancouver

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

7

Richmond

Surrey

5

Delta

STEVESTON

HWY.

DETAIL

99

1

3

RICE MILL RD.

2

George

Massey

Tunnel

62B ST.

Deas

Slough

Bridge

4

Fraser River

99

6

7

17A

Original plan put forth by the

former Liberal government

1. Build new bridge

Constructed above the existing tunnel and Deas

Slough Bridge with eight vehicle lanes, two

high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and cycling and

pedestrian paths.

2. Remove existing tunnel

Decommissioned and removed once the new

bridge is complete.

3. Rice Mill Road

Modified, local access would be maintained.

4. Remove Deas Slough Bridge

Decommissioned and removed once the new

bridge is complete.

5. Steveston interchange

6. Highway 17 interchange

Both replaced to improve functionality

and earthquake protection.

7. Highway 99 corridor improvements

Corridor-wide improvements from Bridgeport

Road in Richmond to the Canada-U.S. border

would be considered.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: b.c. ministry of

transportation; george massey crossing

independent

technical review

george massey project review

An indepedent review of the George Massey

crossing project has determined that a reduced

project scope would better align with community

planning goals. The NDP says the original pro-

posed 10-lane bridge project exceeds what is

necessary to decrease current congestion at the

George Massey crossing.

Vancouver

7

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

Richmond

Surrey

5

Delta

STEVESTON HWY.

DETAIL

99

1

3

RICE MILL RD.

2

George

Massey

Tunnel

62B ST.

Deas

Slough

Bridge

4

Fraser River

99

6

7

17A

Original plan put forth by the

former Liberal government

1. Build new bridge

Constructed above the existing tunnel and Deas

Slough Bridge with eight vehicle lanes, two

high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and cycling and

pedestrian paths.

2. Remove existing tunnel

Decommissioned and removed once the new

bridge is complete.

3. Rice Mill Road

Modified, local access would be maintained.

4. Remove Deas Slough Bridge

Decommissioned and removed once the new

bridge is complete.

5. Steveston interchange

6. Highway 17 interchange

Both replaced to improve functionality

and earthquake protection.

7. Highway 99 corridor improvements

Corridor-wide improvements from Bridgeport Road in Richmond to the Canada-U.S. border would be considered.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: b.c. ministry of trans-

portation; george massey crossing independent

technical review

george massey project review

An indepedent review of the George Massey crossing project has determined that a

reduced project scope would better align with community planning goals. The NDP says

the original proposed 10-lane bridge project exceeds what is necessary to decrease

current congestion at the George Massey crossing.

Vancouver

7

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

Richmond

Surrey

5

Delta

STEVESTON HWY.

DETAIL

99

1

3

RICE MILL RD.

2

62B ST.

George

Massey

Tunnel

Deas

Slough

Bridge

4

Fraser River

99

6

7

17A

Original plan put forth by the former Liberal government

1. Build new bridge

4. Remove Deas Slough Bridge

Constructed above the existing

tunnel and Deas Slough Bridge with

eight vehicle lanes, two high-occupancy

vehicle lanes, and cycling and

pedestrian paths.

Decommissioned and removed once

the new bridge is complete.

5. Steveston interchange

6. Highway 17 interchange

2. Remove existing tunnel

Both replaced to improve functionality

and earthquake protection.

Decommissioned and removed once

the new bridge is complete.

7. Highway 99 corridor improvements

3. Rice Mill Road

Corridor-wide improvements from Bridge

port Road in Richmond to the Canada-U.S.

border would be considered.

Modified, local access would be

maintained.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: b.c. ministry of transportation; george

massey crossing independent technical review

“When you start looking at bridges and infrastructure it certainly makes sense to go beyond the 25 years and start looking at traffic patterns 50 years down the road and where the population growth might be,” Mr. Sashaw said.

The minister said the Liberal government didn’t properly consult with the Greater Vancouver community when it decided to build the proposed 10-lane bridge.

Mr. Wilkinson disagreed, saying the Liberals underwent a massive consultation project over five years.

“If we waited for everyone on the whole planet to agree on what kind of bridge should be built, there never would be one,” Mr. Wilkinson said.

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Ms. Trevena said various upgrades to the tunnel are scheduled to be made between 2019 and 2020, including converting roadway and tunnel lighting to LED to increase visibility, and resurfacing Highway 99 between Steveston Highway and the Highway 17 Interchange.

“That money is going to be well spent. It reduces accidents in the tunnel,” Ms. Trevena said.

Ms. Trevena says the B.C. government will work on congestion on both sides of the tunnel to ease the flow of traffic into the tunnel.

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