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Massey Tunnel replacement may be federal election promise: expert

Traffic near the George Massey Tunel in June of 2019 (Riley Phillips, NEWS 1130 photo)
Summary

Political scientist believes Trudeau Liberals could make Massey Tunnel replacement promises in an election campaign

Delta's mayor says if a campaign promise is made for the Massey Tunnel, it would be hard for him to believe it

DELTA (NEWS 1130) – It’s still unclear what will replace the Massey Tunnel, but it could become an election promise from the Trudeau Liberals.

While it’s a provincial project, the feds are being asked to commit cash towards the replacement. A federal election could be called as early as this weekend.

Political Scientist Hamish Telford with the University of the Fraser Valley believes the tunnel could get attention.

“If the Liberals are eyeing seats in the Delta region, I think they might be, then they might be tempted to support this project,” he said. “I think the people of the region would probably prefer a bridge rather than a tunnel.”

However, Delta Mayor George Harvie doesn’t think people care what the replacement looks like.

“A lot of people agree with me, it’s not about that. It’s about securing a crossing at that location for the future,” he said, adding if a campaign promise is made, it would be hard for him to believe it.

“I’ve had two promises from the prime minister in the last elections,” Harvie said, adding he has also had promises from the province the project would be completed, though none of them have been met.

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Telford says the Massey Tunnel is a huge issue in that part of Metro Vancouver and if the Trudeau Liberals decide not to make any promises for the project, that could hurt the party in local ridings.

The BC Liberal MLA for Delta South also wants to see the tunnel replaced as soon as possible, but he has his doubts.

“It remains to be seen if even talks have taken place between the province and the federal government,” Ian Paton said.

With more people heading back into the office, the roads have been busier, with Harvie saying traffic near the Massey Tunnel has been backing up to where it was pre-pandemic.

“There is a time factor as to how long that tunnel can continue to be open. Every year, it’s getting closer to where it’s just going to be very difficult to make that timeline,” he said, adding this stretch of road affects all communities south of the Fraser River.

“It’s not all about Delta. It’s about Richmond, Delta, South Surrey, and White Rock,” he said, adding those cities will also need a rapid transit system to connect the communities.

Related article: Massey Tunnel replacement plans noticeably absent from B.C. Budget 2021

The business case for the Massey Tunnel replacement was finished in December, but the province won’t say what’s in it until Ottawa is ready.

The Liberal MP for Delta, Carla Qualtrough, says the project is important, but won’t say much more.

With files from Lasia Kretzel