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)

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

Public works manager Matt Sutherland stands where the city has placed free sand for residents in the past outside the fence a the works yard. The program is not being offered this year because it was being abused, he said. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Free city sand program in Williams Lake cancelled after rural residents take advantage of it

The sand and salt mixture was intended for city residents only

The Doxtator family is happy to have their cat home after a case of mistaken identify. (Photo submitted)
LETTER: Thanks to RCMP, neighbours our beloved cat Louise was brought home

She was taken from outside our home in Williams Lake

WLFN Chief Willie Sellars (left) gives the thumbs up after a COVID-19 Facebook live update Jan. 14 with Mayor Walt Cobb and CRD Chair Margo Wagner. (Williams Lake First Nation Facebook image)
Williams Lake chief, city mayor and regional chair unite to give latest COVID-19 update

About 300 cases of COVID-19 in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap region since Jan. 1, say leaders

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read