Delta mayor-elect vows to push forward with Massey Tunnel replacement plans
New bridge, better transit options required to ease city's traffic congestion, George Harvie says
The new mayor of Delta has made replacing the George Massey Tunnel with a new bridge one of his top priorities and he promises to push the province on it.
Plans had been underway for the construction of a 10-lane bridge but the NDP provincial government put the idea on hold after it came to power last year, instead launching an independent technical review exploring best options for the crossing.
"If the province has another idea, great, but we will not support anything that takes up agricultural land in Delta," said mayor-elect George Harvie.
While he was campaigning and door-knocking, he said, traffic consistently came up as the main concern among residents.
"The congestion is just intolerable," he told Stephen Quinn host of CBC's The Early Edition.
A bridge 'for the next 50 years'
He has clear ideas of what the new bridge and transit routes should be like — such as including components for light rail.
"We need to ensure that we are building this bridge not just for today's traffic but for the next 50 years," he said.
That also means focusing on keeping public transportation routes clear so commuters will be encouraged to take transit, he said.
"We're so underserved by transit now but if there is efficient use of transit, then they will get out of their cars," Harvie said.
"With the congestion problem that there is now, it's not an efficient way of taking the bus through — we do not have HOV lanes through the tunnel [so] the buses just have to stay in queue too long."
Impact on economy
Harvie said he's concerned about the toll the current congestion problems are taking on the municipality's economy.
"We have the largest port in Western Canada and, of course, in North America on the West Coast and there is tremendous amount of goods movement," he said.
"From an economic point of view, we're already seeing the effects of congestion in Delta: we have shifts being cancelled in Tilbury and Annacis Island — we can't get employees to those spots — and we have trouble getting your goods in and out now."
He said one possible solution would be dedicated truck lanes, which already exist in some parts of Europe.
Claire Trevena, B.C.'s minister of transportation and infrastructure, has promised to be in touch with Harvie about the matter.
Harvie also said he's reached out to MLAs to set up a meeting to "collectively work on the bridge problem."
With files from The Early Edition