Aerial view rendering of the eight-lane immersed tube tunnel favoured by Metro Vancouver’s board of directors to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel. (Province of British Columbia image)

B.C. VOTES 2020: We’ll build Massey bridge, B.C. Liberals say

NDP to decide on bridge or tunnel by the end of 2020

A bridge to replace the fragile, congested George Massey Tunnel under the Fraser River can be restarted soon after the Oct. 24 B.C. election, without lengthy environmental studies and a likely court challenge to the proposed twin tunnel plan, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson says.

Wilkinson and Richmond-Queensborough candidate Jas Johal announced at a campaign event Oct. 5 that the Massey bridge project would be part of an $8 billion infrastructure package to help B.C.’s economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost of the bridge has risen since the NDP cancelled the project in 2017 and embarked on a study of an eight-lane tunnel option instead.

NDP leader John Horgan’s sudden election call is the latest delay for the project, halting work on a business case for a new crossing that still includes an eight to 10-lane bridge as well as the twin tunnel option favoured by Metro Vancouver municipalities.

The bridge project was halted with six kilometres of sand preload in place for the approaches and $95 million spent on assessment, design and consultation, Wilkinson said. He gave no estimate of how much the cost has risen and would only say it would be open to traffic “as soon as possible.”

“The worst possible thing you can do is to drive a great big tunnel under the river,” Wilkinson said.

NDP leader John Horgan’s sudden election call is the latest delay for the project, halting work on a business case for a new crossing that still includes an eight to 10-lane bridge as well as the twin tunnel option favoured by Metro Vancouver municipalities.

Speaking on behalf of the NDP, Delta North candidate Ravi Kahlon acknowledged that three years after cancelling the original bridge project, his government has not yet approved a design or decided between a bridge and a tunnel. That decision will come by the end of the year, he said.

RELATED: Massey crossing business study halted for snap election

RELATED: Pattullo bridge gets priority, union-only construction deal

Wilkinson said the Massey bridge would be built without tolls, mindful of the removal of tolls from the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges that proved popular in Maple Ridge and Surrey where both parties are campaigning feverishly for the Oct. 24 election.

The B.C. Liberal government had a contract for $2.4 billion to build the Massey bridge, replacing a tunnel put in the river more than 60 years ago and now considered at risk in an earthquake. The B.C. Liberals say a new bridge will be financed out of an $8 billion “Rebuild B.C.” fund, which is in addition to existing infrastructure plans including the Langley and Vancouver rapid transit extensions now in progress.

The tunnel option could mean a delay of up to 10 years in getting a new crossing ready for use, since the Tsawwassen First Nation has opposed the plan and would likely challenge it in court due to the impact of dredging the river on Fraser River salmon, Wilkinson said. At a minimum, the tunnel option triggers a federal environmental assessment of the fish habitat impact, and if approved, the dredging and relocation of thousands of tonnes of salt-contaminated river bottom soil to create a trench for the twin tunnels.

Just before the announcement, the NDP campaign issued a statement claiming the switch would “risk major delays, risk losing federal funding and set the project back years.” Kahlon said he doesn’t know how lonh a federal fisheries review of tunnel dredging and construction would take, but the previously approved bridge would “turn Richmond into a parking lot.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Calgary Zoo is aiding in recovery efforts for the Vancouver Island marmot, an endangered species. Pictured here, a marmot at Mount Washington. (Black Press file)
Despite challenges, 2020 good year for Vancouver Island marmot population

In 2019, the foundation counted 60 pups; this year, it reached 46

Several local schools took part in Student Vote for the B.C. election. Black Press file photo
Students in Student Vote support NDP in Comox-Courtenay

Unlike actual vote, students in Mid Island-Pacific Rim back Greens

Father Charles has devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitats and has inspired generations of volunteers to work together to protect and preserve forests and rivers. Photo submitted
Valley environmentalist and Catholic priest-hermit Father Charles Brandt passes away

He devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitats

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks near Comox

A Comox Valley family had a meeting with some humpback whales recently,… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

From left: Rick Weaver, Anita Eldershaw-Pitman and Area A director Daniel Arbour at the Friendly Port Child Care Centre. Photo supplied
District funds enable expansion at Union Bay child care facility

A grant from the Comox Valley Regional District will help create eight… Continue reading

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

Items seized over four days of targeted vehicle checks Nanaimo and Victoria by members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC photo)
Gang enforcement team seizes drugs and weapons in Nanaimo and Victoria

Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. checked 33 vehicles over four days

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Most Read