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'One of the worst traffic bottlenecks in Canada': Local leaders call for Massey Tunnel replacement

Last Updated Apr 25, 2019 at 10:31 am PDT

Massey Tunnel backup (NEWS 1130 File Photo)

DELTA (NEWS 1130) – Some of Metro Vancouver’s leaders are renewing their push to have congestion issues around the George Massey Tunnel dealt with, immediately.

Calling it one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in Canada, the mayors of Delta, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, White Rock, and the Chiefs of the Musqueam Indian Band and Tsawwassen First Nation have all signed a letter to John Horgan after holding a meeting in February.

It outlines their complaints to the premier, and calls for an eight lane crossing to be built to replace the aging bridge. Their preference is for a deep, bored tunnel, if it’s viable, and say only tunnel options should be considered.

In their solution, six lanes would be dedicated to regular traffic, and two lanes for rapid transit.

“During this meeting, there was agreement that the Province should take immediate action to solve the traffic congestion problem at the George Massey Tunnel,” the letter reads.

The letter was sent to the premier on March 29th.

In terms of the durability, they want this new tunnel to last more than eight decades.

“The crossing should be designed to serve the needs of the region to at least 2100,” the letter reads.

There’s been a real urgency to replace the Massey Tunnel for some time now — an urgency that has only seemed to increase since the NDP government scrapped a 10-lane bridge plan created by the previous, B.C. Liberal government.

The seven leaders say with the current timelines being contemplated by the province, construction on a a replacement might not even be finished before 2030, “a delay that greatly impacts the lives of tens of thousands of residents who make use of the tunnel each day.”

They also note concerns for the “overall liveability” of the region.

According to the leaders, their communities are the ones most directly impacted by the aging tunnel and the traffic woes that come with it. They say they’ve been successful in coming up with a solution each of them can support.

NDP has stalled ‘again and again’: Liberal MLA

Meantime, Liberal MLA Ian Paton for Delta South is taking jabs at the BC NDP, claiming the government is stalling the project over and over again.

“We had this thing going, we had companies working,” he tells NEWS 1130. “This bridge would almost be half built by now if we’d have just been elected back into government and we kept on going. Instead, the NDP has stalled this thing again and again and they’re back to another report.”

He says while the mayors and chiefs may not be engineers to come up with a solution, he says they’ve “at least come forward” to push for immediate change.

“A lot of the ideas that the mayors have put in were already ideas that were part of the B.C. Liberal government’s plan for a new bridge, except they think ‘well let’s trim it down to eight lanes instead of 10 lanes — which I could certainly live with, I think anybody could live with the fact,” he explains.

However, the eight full lanes would not be dedicated to vehicle traffic, as mentioned. It would translate to three going in each direction.

Paton says years have been spent studying the replacement, thousands of pages of documents have been written up, and different engineering firms have been brought in.

“Out of five options, the best one was always a bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel which would be less of an impact on businesses, on agricultural lane, all these different things,” he notes. “I’m a believer in building things now for 100 years from now, so I don’t think 10 lanes was too out of the question.”

Generally, Paton adds he supports the latest call for a replacement, despite his questions about a bored tunnel.

Read the letter:

Letter to the premier - Massey Tunnel replacement