British Columbia

Richmond councillor wants NDP to take new direction on proposed bridge to replace Massey Tunnel

Richmond City Council has long opposed the proposed 10-lane bridge replacing the George Massey Tunnel. It's hoping an NDP government will cancel the project or pick an alternative.

Proposed 10-lane span was to join Delta and Richmond but city leaders are divided

The B.C. NDP has said it will defer to the Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council on the future of the George Massey Tunnel. The B.C. Liberals championed a 10-lane replacement bridge (artist's rendering pictured) for the tunnel. (Province of B.C.)

Richmond city council is looking for alternatives to the proposed 10-lane bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel.

Richmond has long opposed the project, which the previous B.C. Liberal government championed. The NDP has been more ambivalent.

Now that the NDP is set to take power, Richmond council believes it has a chance to stop the bridge and has asked staff to find alternatives to the project.

"Twenty-three million dollars was already spent seismically upgrading the tunnel," Councillor Carol Day told On the Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

In addition, Day said former transportation minister Kevin Falcon had announced twinning the tunnel, adding "even previous premier Gordon Campbell said upgrading the tunnel and adding another tube was the way to go.

​"How did we go from that to basically a $12-billion project when you add in the financing? It doesn't make logical sense."

Day said capacity at the frequently-congested tunnel could be improved by banning trucks during rush hour and running local ports 24 hours a day.

She said the previous government never took the city's concerns or ideas for the tunnel's future seriously despite "hundreds of meetings."

She said she's optimistic things will be different in the future.

The B.C. NDP has said it will defer to the Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council on the future of the George Massey Tunnel.

Listen to the complete interview with Carol Day:

Delta mayor decries 'myths'

The Mayors' Council has consistently opposed the 10-lane bridge as well, except for Delta Mayor Lois Jackson.

Jackson said extensive research has shown a bridge is "superior, cheaper, more environmentally friendly" than any alternatives.

"To put a tunnel in there is going to cost $800 million more than the projected bridge with all of the studies," she said. "This was not political research. That was done. This is factual, technical research."

Day disagreed with Jackson's assertions, saying other jurisdictions have been able to build tunnels cheaper and faster than the projected costs of the proposed bridge.

Jackson says a report will be coming out next week compiling the research done on the proposed bridge and its alternatives, and it's important to dispel myths about the project.

With files form CBC Radio One's On The Coast