There’s little doubt something needs to be done to ease traffic congestion through the George Massey Tunnel connecting Richmond and Delta.
B.C.’s previous Liberal government had proposed a new, ten-lane toll bridge at a cost of $3.5 billion, but the project is opposed by all but one Metro Vancouver mayor — Delta Mayor Lois Jackson.
Now with a new B.C. NDP government in power, the Massey Tunnel replacement project is expected to be scrapped. Premier John Horgan said during the campaign that he would side with the mayors on any replacement plan.
Not surprisingly, the one municipality with a mayor in support of the bridge project has released a new video and website on why the bridge is needed.
The video and website www.weneedabridge.ca hopes to “bring the facts to light” and highlights the importance of the Massey Tunnel’s connections to the U.S. border, BC Ferries Tsawwassen terminal, Delta Port and YVR.
The video states the tunnel has been a cornerstone in Metro Vancouver’s development, but the region has outgrown it. The tunnel was constructed between 1957-1959, and officially opened on May, 24 1959. At time of its opening, it was only one of only two similar tunnels worldwide.
“It is clear that the tunnel is operating beyond capacity, and its physical restraints are problematic for commuters and first responders,” the video states. There are an average of 300 collisions per year in the tunnel, with 40 per cent involving injury or fatalities.
Metro Vancouver’s population is projected to grow by one million people over the next 30 years, and there is a 30 per cent chance of a major earthquake over that time period.
The video says the tunnel could fail during a major earthquake, and is unable to be “significantly seismically upgraded.” The video says twinning the tunnel, as proposed by some mayors, would not resolve the seismic concerns of the existing tunnel.
Last month, Richmond city council voted to ask Horgan to consider twinning the Massey Tunnel as an option.
The tunnel was originally called the “Deas Island Tunnel.” This film from 1959 is about the construction of the Massey Tunnel under the Fraser River between Richmond and Delta.