DELTA (NEWS 1130) – A Liberal MLA is calling on the province to get moving on the Massey Tunnel replacement, saying commuters will be idling in B.C.’s worst traffic bottleneck for years to come because of inaction by the NDP.
Delta South MLA Ian Paton says enough is enough and people who use the Massey Tunnel are running out of patience.
Speaking in the Legislature, Paton takes issue with the fact the BC NDP scrapped the replacement plan in 2017 and that we are still waiting on a business plan to be approved.
“Yet here we are four years after the bridge project was scuttled with nothing to show for it. And I should note that the local MP in Delta recently told me there hadn’t been any request from the province to the federal government for funding of any kind of new crossing,” Paton said Monday.
He notes recent lighting upgrades — which cost about $40 million — are a minor improvement and that action is needed to stop the traffic bottlenecks and address seismic safety issues.
Paton tells the Legislature he hears from locals about the status of the Massey replacement “on a near-daily basis.”
He claims a 10-lane bridge, which the former BC Liberals had proposed previously and approved, has a number of benefits, including a “safer, smoother, more efficient, and less-congested ride for motorists.” Paton explains it would also present an opportunity to expand public transit services in the area.
A business case outlining two options — either an eight-lane replacement bridge or a new eight-lane tunnel — was received by B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming in mid December. Fleming was to meet with the various partners and stakeholders early into the new year.
Both Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie and Delta Mayor George Harvey were hoping a final decision would be made in January, however, there’s been no announcement to date. The public has yet to see the details of the business case, including the costs associated with each option.
Meanwhile, Paton says it’s not just commuters who are impacted by the aging tunnel either — Paton says hundreds of semi trucks are stuck in southbound traffic each morning because of the crossing and its one lane that time of day.
“Goods that are heading for the U.S. border, BC Ferries, Delta container terminals, and Tilbury Industrial Park. They’re frustrated and they’re running out of patients for a solution,” he said.