Massey Tunnel replacement project brings out critics and protesters

The provincial government continued to promote the Massey Tunnel replacement project Tuesday, releasing a public consultation report claiming "general support" for the planned toll bridge.

Richmond councillor still wondering why government chose a bridge instead of expanding the tunnel

Almost 90 per cent of its members are in favour of a bridge crossing where the Massey Tunnel currently is, said Rob Akimow, chair of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. (CBC)

The provincial government continued to promote the Massey Tunnel replacement project Tuesday, releasing a publicconsultation report claiming "general support" for the planned toll bridge

But Richmond city councillor Harold Steves says they still need to come clean on how a decision to build a $3.5-billion dollar bridge was chosen over the less expensive option of upgrading the existing George Massey Tunnel. 

Demonstrators protest outside, while Transportation Minister Todd Stone addresses the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. (Simon Charland/CBC)

"What I would really like to hear is why we need to spend $3 billion more to build a bridge rather than adding another lane to the tunnel," Steves told CBC News. "We're hoping we will get an answer by April 1, if not we will have to use the freedom of information system to get the original plan for the tunnel."

Steves says original plan weighed the pros and cons of replacing the Massey Tunnel against adding an extra lane each way through the span. He's made FOI requests to see documents around how the government decided on the bridge option. Previous attempts have returned no documents.

The government announced the tunnel linking Richmond and Delta would be replaced by a bridge in 2013. Bridge construction is set to begin next year.

An artist's rendering portrays the future deck of the bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel south of Vancouver. B.C. Premier Christy Clark promised work will start on the new bridge between Richmond and Delta by 2017. (CBC)

Transportation Minister Todd Stone appeared in front of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce Wednesday touting the benefits of the bridge as outlined in the report, including better traffic flow, less pollution and preservation of farmland.

A dozen or so protesters voiced their opposition outside the meeting.

Steves says he doesn't have much faith in the government's consultation process.

"They have a funny idea of what consultation is," he said. "Their idea of consultation is they tell us what to do; we tell them if we like it. Then they go do it."

With files from Richard Zussman


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