British Columbia

Mayors, First Nations chiefs pen letter to premier demanding Massey Tunnel solution

The mayors of Delta, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, and White Rock, and the Chiefs of the Musqueam Indian Band and Tsawwassen First Nation, have asked Premier John Horgan for immediate action to solve the traffic congestion problem at the George Massey Tunnel.

Letter says current timelines, where construction on new crossing would not finish before 2030, are too long

The Massey Tunnel during weekday rush hour in Richmond. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A group of leaders in Metro Vancouver have penned a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan demanding an expedited solution to ease congestion along the George Massey Tunnel corridor.

The mayors of Delta, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver and White Rock, and the chiefs of the Musqueam Indian Band and Tsawwassen First Nation have signed the letter asking the province to take "immediate action."

Traffic passing through the George Massey Tunnel, an infamous bottleneck during rush hour. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"With the timelines currently being contemplated by the province, construction on a new crossing may not be completed before 2030 — a delay that greatly impacts the lives of tens of thousands of residents who make use of the tunnel each day, and the overall liveablity of our region," the letter read. 

The 59-year-old tunnel, which connects Richmond and Delta, is routinely described as one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the province.

There have been a number of suggestions put forward as a replacement to the aging route, including a 10-lane bridge.  

The previous B.C. Liberal government started preliminary work on the bridge in 2017, but the NDP cancelled the $3.5 billion project shortly after it was elected.

The letter asks that only tunnel solutions be pursued, a significant change for Delta, which had previously been a strong proponent of the bridge.

Mayor George Harvie says he wanted to support a solution that worked for the region — and his constituents. 

The mayors of five municipalities and the leaders of two Indigenous groups have signed a letter asking the government take "immediate action." (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"The fact the original contract for the bridge was cancelled … changed everything," Harvie said. 

"We need a regional solution working together with all the mayors ... The constituents that I talked to just want a solution to the problem — and they want it as soon as possible."

The provincial government has said there will be no final decision on Massey Tunnel until the fall of 2020.

The group also asked for increased transit funding in the meantime to ease congestion.

When asked for a response at a news conference Thursday, Premier John Horgan said he would do his "level best" to meet a 2026 completion date.

Corrections

  • In a previous version of this story, the deck stated that work on a Massey Tunnel replacement would not begin until 2030. In fact, the project is scheduled to be completed by 2030.
    Apr 25, 2019 1:57 PM PT

With files from Justin McElroy

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