The B.C. government is pressing ahead with preliminary work aimed at replacing the aging and outdated George Massey Tunnel connecting Richmond and Delta, south of Vancouver.

The first phase of public consultations begins next week as the province tries to determine the needs of Metro Vancouver residents who rely on the increasingly busy tunnel.

Officials estimate the tube has just over a decade of useful life left before requiring a complete overhaul and they say they will need all of that time to plan and construct any replacement.

The four-lane tunnel opened in 1959 and now carries over 80-thousand vehicles every day.