VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Less than a month into his tenure as B.C.’s minister of transportation and infrastructure, Rob Fleming has received the business case for a proposed replacement of the George Massey Tunnel.
But we don’t yet know whether the province will opt to build a bridge or tunnel to connect Delta and Richmond.
The business case includes two options – a bridge or an immersed-tube tunnel, each with eight lanes – which will become public in February and March, according to a government press release.
The province has not committed to a completion date for the eventual replacement project.
Transportation Minister @Rob_Fleming still not saying when final decision to be made on 8-lane bridge or immersed crossing replacing George Massey tunnel. @NEWS 1130 reported last week, Richmond and Delta mayors want construction to start ASAP. #bcpolihttps://t.co/Q7gaMGg9nb
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) December 17, 2020
Delta Mayor George Harvey said he was glad the business case was complete and that he was looking forward to meeting with officials from various levels of government early in the new year to begin working on the next steps.
“What’s next for us is to ensure the province moves forward as quick as possible on trying to get a new crossing for the existing George Massey Tunnel,” he said.
Harvey said he is “agnostic” on the bridge vs. tunnel debate, but he wants to see a decision made as early as next month so work can start on an environmental assessment and other pre-construction planning.
In 2013, then-premier Christy Clark said her BC Liberal government would replace the tunnel with a bridge. But those plans were scrapped after the NDP came to power following the 2017 election.
Metro Vancouver mayors voted in favour of an eight-lane tunnel replacement in late 2019.
Asked whether he was experiencing deja vu, with another potential crossing plan on the horizon, Harvey said, “People ask me that all the time, as the mayor. My focus is on moving ahead; I’m not focusing on what’s behind me.”
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie also said he was optimistic a decision would be made early in 2021 — but he hopes the province decides to build a tunnel.
“It has been a great frustration to me that we wasted six or seven years under a previous government that absolutely refused to listen to the wishes of the region or the cities that are involved,” he said, referring to the BC Liberal government’s preference for a bridge.
Brodie said he’s optimistic the project will be complete “well before” the end of the coming decade.