8-lane Massey Tunnel endorsed by Metro Vancouver board of directors
VANCOUVER – A Metro Vancouver committee has given the go-ahead to replace the George Massey Tunnel.
The region's board of directors voted Friday morning in favour of building an eight-lane immersed tube tunnel to replace the existing, four-lane tunnel.
The vpte was not unanimous, but the board opted for another tunnel instead of the bridge option to connect Delta and Richmond.
A 10-lane bridge was proposed by the previous provincial government, but the plan was put on hold when the NDP took power.
- Read more: Tunnel or bridge? Massey replacement plan creating division
- Bridges and tunnels: More information on shortlist of six options
- Final report: Read the province's 302-page independent technical review on the project
Though the tunnel was approved, not everyone agreed with the decision.
Jas Johal, Liberal MLA for Richmond-Queensborough, called it "extremely disappointing" and "fundamentally short-sighted," saying he doesn't think the tunnel will be wide enough to accommodate commutes to and from the growing region.
While the tunnel will have eight lanes, two will be reserved for transit, meaning there will be three in each direction for private vehicles.
The current Massey Tunnel has a counterflow system, meaning during peak travel times there are three lanes going in the direction with the most traffic.
"You've got many businesses in Richmond today having difficulty hiring or retaining employees because of that bloody tunnel," Johal said.
"And here we are. The decision this bunch could come up with at the end of the day is three lanes during rush hour – the same three lanes we have today."
But those in favour included a Delta city councillor, who said it was important to move the project forward with whatever option is fastest.
"Not just because there are 80,000 commuters who use this tunnel every single day but because the Massey Tunnel is the economic gateway to Canada," Dylan Kruger told CTV News after the vote.
"We have Deltaport – which services Highway 99, which is the largest container port in all of Canada – BC Ferries, Peace Arch border crossing… In addition to commuters, and yes, it's important to get them out of their cars, we have to recognize that this is how goods are moving from A to B in Metro Vancouver and across the country."
He knows not everyone backs the tunnel option over bridge, but said he's weary of how long the process of building a bridge would take.
"Ultimately the province is going to have to decide the method of a crossing. Whether it's a bridge, a tunnel or a zipline, frankly I don't care anymore. Constituents in Delta just want to get across the tunnel," Kruger said.
With approval from the Metro Vancouver board of directors, the project now moves on to the provincial level.
The NDP Government estimated it would begin public consultation in November or December of this year. There will be opportunities for the public to give their input that will be "widely advertised," the province says on its Massey crossing webpage.
Questions can also be asked by email.
Meanwhile, work is ongoing to ensure the existing tunnel is safe for use. The safety improvements, which include resurfacing, improved drainage and upgrades to fire alarms are expected to cost $40 million.