September 18, 2013
BC government to replace Massey Tunnel with bridge
PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
The BC government is moving forward with a plan to replace the George Massey Tunnel, with the construction of a new bridge on the existing Highway 99 corridor, based on the second phase of public consultation.
“We are keeping our promise to replace the George Massey Tunnel and improve the Highway 99 corridor, starting in 2017,” said BC Premier Christy Clark. “Congestion at the tunnel is frustrating for families and stalling the economy. A new bridge will improve travel times for transit, commuters and commercial users, and open the corridor up to future rapid transit options.”
The decision to replace the tunnel with a new bridge is based on two rounds of consultation with the public and stakeholders to support project planning and development about the various crossing options.
The findings of the second round of consultations is contained in a report prepared by Lucent Strategies Inc. for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which was released on Sept. 20
The main finding of the report is that there is support for a new crossing along the Highway 99 corridor, with preference for a new bridge.
Other key findings include:
- Strong support for resolving the problem of congestion, safety and reliability at the Massey Tunnel;
- Strong desire for transit, cycling and pedestrian improvements, including protecting the Highway 99 corridor for future rapid transit;
- Strong opposition to improvements along a new corridor such as No. 8 Road;
- Doing nothing is not an option; strong opposition to only improving the existing tunnel;
- Continued support for moving forward with interim improvements as project development for a replacement continues. Phase 2 consultation took place from March 11 to April 2, 2013 and included participation from the public and stakeholders from across the Greater Vancouver region.
The consultation program incorporated a variety of methods to gather input, including an online survey using the GovTogetherBC platform, open houses and small group meetings.
The seven stakeholders meetings were held with First Responders, the BC Trucking Association, Agricultural Groups, the Port and Business Community, the Surrey Community, the Richmond Community and the Delta Community.
Key objectives in this phase included raising awareness of the need for a long-term solution at the tunnel, developing a project scope, gathering input on preferences for potential replacement scenarios and evaluation criteria, and achieving a high level of participation in the consultation process.
The next step in the project is the preparation of a more detailed project scope and business case.
Engineering and technical work is now underway to develop a project scope and business case for the new bridge and associated Highway 99 corridor improvements.
This work will be presented for public discussion next spring and the project will go to tender by the end of September.
The George Massey Tunnel carries more than 80,000 vehicles a day and is a key component of the regional and provincial transportation system.
The tunnel is an important transportation link to the Vancouver International Airport, the Peace Arch border crossing, the BC Ferries Tsawwassen terminal and the Boundary Bay Airport.
As a result, it is an important route for moving goods at the regional, provincial and national level.
The tunnel is over capacity during the morning and evening rush hours and close to capacity throughout the day.
The existing tunnel has about 10 years of useful life remaining before major components will need to be completely replaced. ..dIn addition, the tunnel does not meet modern seismic standards.
The B.C. government started planning for a replacement of the tunnel in September 2012, in response to growing concerns about the impact of congestion and recognizing the age and condition of the existing George Massey Tunnel.
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