George Massey Tunnel replacement bridge might have 10 lanes
Still not clear on cost of building the bridge and if it will be tolled
The new bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel between Richmond and Delta along B.C.'s Highway 99 might have 10 lanes, but it's still not clear how much the crossing will cost to build and whether it will be tolled.
The province announced its plan to replace the 60-year-old structure — arguably the worst bottleneck in Metro Vancouver — nearly two-and-a-half years ago. Delta residents filled an information session on Wednesday looking for answers to those questions, but had to settle for tidbits like this:
"We're basically doing the same height as the Alex Fraser [bridge], but we're also factoring in a little bit of potential sea level change because of climate change. So that distance is about 57 metres," says Pam Ryan, planning director of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.
The Massey Tunnel is already at its traffic capacity and even more truckers are taking it now because of construction on the Pattullo Bridge. Many fear truck congestion will get even worse if a proposal to expand the port goes ahead, but Ryan says there is nothing to worry about.
"The truck traffic from Deltaport actually only represents 2 per cent of the traffic going through the tunnel," she says. "It's hard to believe, I know, but we have done detailed traffic data."
The province says some technical work and studies still have to be done before they reveal their final plan, but they're sticking to their timeline. Construction will begin in 2017 and the project will be finished by 2022.
There are also unanswered questions about whether the tunnel will be decommissioned after the bridge is built and what impact the construction will have on the Fraser River.