BC decides on George Massey Tunnel replacement
By Rob BlackstienConstruction
Province chooses eight-lane toll-free tunnel over bridge option.
The British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has come to a decision regarding what will be done with the George Massey Tunnel on Highway 99 in the Metro Vancouver region.
We originally learned late last year that the BC government was mulling two different options, but it has opted to green light a new eight-lane immersed-tube tunnel to replace the George Massey Tunnel, which is over 60 years old.
The new tunnel will provide a toll-free crossing across the Fraser River designed to improve traffic, cycling and walking connections.
“A new crossing to replace the George Massey Tunnel will improve traffic flow and make travel by transit, walking and cycling more convenient and attractive, without costing commuters hundreds of dollars a year in unfair tolls,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
The tunnel will cost an estimated $4.15 billion and be operation in 2030. Two of the eight lanes will be dedicated for bus rapid transit, and the crossing will include separated pathways for both cyclists and pedestrians.
“This new crossing will ensure a strong and reliable connection along one of British Columbia’s most important trade corridors, while also providing people and families with more choices about how they travel in their day-to-day lives,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of State for Infrastructure.
The other replacement option presented was an eight-lane bridge, but the tunnel was chosen because of several reasons, including; it was a better fit for the regional vision and interests endorsed by the Metro Vancouver Board; it limits new visual, noise, shading and lighting impact; and has less impact to agricultural land while not introducing new navigational restrictions on the river.
“We are encouraged by the collaborative approach taken by the Province in working with Metro Vancouver and the Mayors’ Council to develop and implement a solution to what is widely recognized as one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in B.C.,” says Sav Dhaliwal, chair, Metro Vancouver Board of Directors.
Now that the replacement option has been finalized, the next steps include launching an environmental assessment process, which includes ongoing engagement with Indigenous peoples, and preparation for procurement.