The original George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project pushed the 10-lane bridge option without fully considering feasible alternatives or local opinions on the best path forward. Those are the key findings of a technical review of the replacement project, which has been released by Claire Trevena, British Columbia’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“The 10-lane Massey bridge project was pushed ahead without the input of communities,” said Trevena. “The technical review of the project has confirmed this was the wrong project for the region. We need a better solution for this crossing to get people out of traffic and home with their families.”
The Province’s next steps reflect the extensive independent technical review undertaken by Stan Cowdell that found:
- The 10-lane bridge project did not fully address a number of key considerations, such as community alignment, livability, and cost, which likely resulted in stakeholder concerns;
- A smaller six-to-eight-lane bridge would accommodate the majority of traffic predicted by 2045;
- An immersed tube tunnel crossing of up to eight lanes is likely feasible for a new crossing and could be less expensive with fewer negative impacts;
- Retrofitting the existing tunnel to use in tandem with a new crossing may be possible;
- The existing shoulder bus lanes work well and could be expanded as necessary;
- Highway improvements are equally important to reducing congestion; and
- A realignment could further reduce the project’s scale, complexity and cost.
In January 2019, the Province will engage with regional municipalities and First Nations to identify new criteria and goals for a South Fraser crossing that better align with regional plans, particularly Metro Vancouver and Mayors’ Council priorities. This will inform further engineering to assess appropriate bridge and tunnel options that are more in scale with community preference with a new business case to be developed by fall 2020.
“People are understandably frustrated with the gridlock along the Highway 99 corridor,” Trevena said. “Had the options been carefully and objectively considered before the 10-lane bridge project, we would be much closer to solving the congestion in a way that works for everyone who lives, works and travels in the region.”
The Province will immediately begin scoping work for improvements to the Steveston interchange to reduce congestion along the corridor, as well as improvements on the Delta side of the traffic network.
A comprehensive suite of safety improvements will also be added to the existing crossing to address long-standing concerns from local communities and first responders. Work will include better lighting and drainage, resurfacing the tunnel approaches, and upgrading safety systems.