VANCOUVER -- B.C. businesses are calling on the province to expedite the George Massey Tunnel replacement project as part of a sweeping set of recommendations aimed at helping the economy recover from the pandemic.

While the government says it is moving forward, there’s still no clear idea yet when shovels will hit the ground.

Expediting the long-awaited infrastructure project is just one of several policy recommendations being made to the province by the BC Chamber of Commerce in a wide-ranging report submitted to the government in July and now made public.

The chamber’s director of policy development and government and stakeholder relations Dan Baxter said their preference is an eight-lane bridge.

“We obviously want the government to move on something. We need to get that bottleneck replaced, that gridlock dealt with,” Baxter said. “Let’s see if we can get that decision for the fall, or at least sometime early next year, and preferably in the form of a bridge.”

Last fall, a Metro Vancouver task force chose an eight-lane tunnel as their preferred option. The previous Liberal government’s plan for a 10-lane bridge was shelved after the NDP took power.

One of the businesses looking forward to a new and improved crossing is MTU Maintenance Canada, a Germany-based aircraft engine repair company whose only North American location is in Delta.

President and CEO Helmut Neuper said most of his employees commute through the tunnel. It’s also the route the company takes to transport engines and equipment to and from the airport.

“There’s a silver lining in the current slowdown, so traffic is now somewhat bearable, but it is an issue,” Neuper said, and added their business has also experienced a slowdown during the pandemic due to the effect on commercial airline travel.

He said better transportation infrastructure would make the area more attractive for businesses and employees alike.

“What’s important for us, what’s important for industry is that we have a decision, particularly when we talk about economic recovery.”

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena was not available for an interview. In an email to CTV News, the ministry said the province is making progress towards selecting the right solution, adding the project is on track and they still plan to have a business case by this fall.