'Bullish on getting it done': Delta mayor pushes for fast action on Massey Tunnel
B.C. government conducted a study on tunnel upgrade options months ago but hasn't released it publicly
With the 10-lane bridge project to replace the George Massey Tunnel now being taken off the table by the province, it's not clear what will replace the aging tunnel — and for the mayor of Delta, the uncertainty is a major issue.
When it came to power, the NDP government conducted a review of the replacement proposals, which was completed several months ago but has not yet been made public. The report is expected to be released by the end of the year.
"What I heard at the time [of the study] is that almost no one, none of the municipalities in the region, were wanting a 10-lane bridge, so we put a halt to that," said Transportation Minister Claire Trevena.
Moe Sihota, former president of the B.C. NDP and former cabinet minister, said the decision to halt the bridge project should not come as a surprise.
"This was an $11-billion initiative by Christy Clark and I think all the mayors have come to the realization that that's not going to happen," he said.
'Done listening to all the chatter'
Newly elected Delta Mayor George Harvie had made replacing the tunnel a top priority during his election campaign.
With plans for a 10-lane bridge crushed, he just wants to see action to relieve congestion at the choke point across the Fraser.
"I'm done listening to all the chatter about the engineering solution — what keeps me awake at night is a problem of congestion."
"My only interest is getting this provincial government to come to a solution and implementing it as soon as possible."
He wants a solution that doesn't use any more agricultural land in Delta and includes a robust rapid bus transit system that can be converted to light rail in the future.
A bridge with several lanes, perhaps three, with room to expand, is one possible solution, Harvie said, but ultimately he's not set on any one proposal.
"We cannot wait any longer," he told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.
"I'm agnostic to the solution but I'm bullish on getting a solution done. Let's just get on with it."
He has been in contact with his counterparts in White Rock and Surrey to push for a solution, he said.
"This is not just about Delta — this is about all the traffic flowing in and out of Vancouver into all of the communities south of the Fraser," Harvie said.
Concerns of burying report in holidays
Roughly $70 million had already been spent on preliminary planning and pre-construction work on the 10-lane bridge, under the previous Liberal government.
"It doesn't make a lot of sense to me," said Amy Robichaud, a B.C. Liberal and a political consultant.
She said she's concerned about the timing of the ministry report due at the end of December.
"There's a thing that happens in politics — everybody does it, no matter who is in charge — you take out the trash the last week of the year when you know people aren't paying attention and that's during the holiday season," she said.