London Drugs exec says Massey tunnel replacement project isn't enough
RICHMOND – At least one major employer says the plan to replace the current Massey tunnel with an eight-lane tunnel won’t be enough.
During peak times, congestion in the George Massey tunnel that connects Richmond and Delta is a major problem. On Friday, Metro Vancouver officials gave the green light for a plan to replace the Massey tunnel with another tunnel instead of a 10-lane bridge.
The 10-lane bridge was proposed by the previous provincial government, but the plan was put on hold when the NDP took power.
“Nobody felt that this was a viable option,” said Richmond’s mayor Malcolm Brodie, pointing to an artist's rendering of the bridge. "This would encourage growth south of the river in a way that was not contemplated by the region."
The new tunnel will have eight lanes, two for transit only, leaving three lanes in each direction.
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.
But Delta’s mayor George Harvie defends the proposed tunnel, saying adding more lanes would simply move the congestion farther north.
“The more lanes you get, the more congestion is going to be worse going farther up towards Oak street,” said Harvie.
Harvie says getting people out of their cars is a top priority.
“It has to include a very robust rapid transit system," he said. "If you can take a bus and pass cars you are going to take a bus."
But London Drugs CEO Clint Malhman calls that plan short-sighted.
“Commercial traffic can’t take transit, so we are curious how the government is engineering a solution that appears to have similar capacity as it does today," said Malhman.
Now, the company says it may have to make adjustments.
“We have been actively looking at relocating our warehouse, which affects about 350 employees," said Malhman.
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.
“I’m remaining cautiously optimistic, but there is no done deal here,” said Brodie.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Kendra Mangione.