Massey Tunnel will not be replaced with 10-lane bridge, report suggests

The B.C. NDP appears to have taken a 10-lane bridge off the table as an option to replace the Massey Tunnel, which is one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the province.

Richmond city staff say the province is no longer considering a 10-lane crossing

An artist's rendering of the proposed bridge to replace the George Massey tunnel. (CBC)

The B.C. NDP appears to have taken a 10-lane bridge off the table as an option to replace the Massey Tunnel, which is one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the province.

B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena met with Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie and city staff earlier this month to discuss the future of the tunnel, which links the communities of Delta and Richmond.

A report that recently went to council suggests the province has no interest in building a new crossing with ten lanes. 

"The Minister advised that any future crossing improvement option would not include a 10-lane bridge," the report stated.

"The Ministry recognizes the significant negative impacts that the scale of such a project would have on the host communities, particularly for Richmond."

The B.C. Liberals started construction last year on a $3.5-billion dollar bridge.

When the NDP took power, the project was put on pause and engineer Stan Cowdell was hired to examine new options to upgrade or replace the tunnel.

At the time, a 10-lane bridge was still being considered.

Still waiting

Cowdell completed his study several months ago but it still has not been made public.

"The Minister received the report in June, and it is under consideration along with options for next steps," the Ministry of Transportation said in an emailed statement.

"Minister Trevena is discussing its findings with Metro Mayors before making the independent review — and government's next steps — public before the end of the year."

Delta South MLA Ian Paton — a longtime supporter of a 10-lane bridge — says commuters are tired of waiting for a solution.

"If the study shows they prefer an eight-lane bridge instead of ten, I can certainly live with that," he said.

"Let's get moving on this and let's make something happen."

Brodie, the Richmond mayor, says he prefers twinning the tunnel to improve traffic flow.

"Our complaint had always been that the 10-lane bridge was so massive and excessive that it had all kinds of implications that were very negative," he said.

In an interview with Margaret Gallagher, guest host of CBC Radio One's On The Coast, Trevena said the report would be released before Christmas.

"It is a technical review," Trevena said about the months it took to release it. 

"There is a lot of information in there and we wanted to make sure everything was digested and we were in the right place."

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast