Aerial view rendering of the eight-lane immersed tube tunnel favoured by Metro Vancouver’s board of directors to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel. (Province of British Columbia image)

B.C. VOTES 2020: We’ll build Massey bridge, B.C. Liberals say

NDP to decide on bridge or tunnel by the end of 2020

A bridge to replace the fragile, congested George Massey Tunnel under the Fraser River can be restarted soon after the Oct. 24 B.C. election, without lengthy environmental studies and a likely court challenge to the proposed twin tunnel plan, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson says.

Wilkinson and Richmond-Queensborough candidate Jas Johal announced at a campaign event Oct. 5 that the Massey bridge project would be part of an $8 billion infrastructure package to help B.C.’s economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost of the bridge has risen since the NDP cancelled the project in 2017 and embarked on a study of an eight-lane tunnel option instead.

NDP leader John Horgan’s sudden election call is the latest delay for the project, halting work on a business case for a new crossing that still includes an eight to 10-lane bridge as well as the twin tunnel option favoured by Metro Vancouver municipalities.

The bridge project was halted with six kilometres of sand preload in place for the approaches and $95 million spent on assessment, design and consultation, Wilkinson said. He gave no estimate of how much the cost has risen and would only say it would be open to traffic “as soon as possible.”

“The worst possible thing you can do is to drive a great big tunnel under the river,” Wilkinson said.

NDP leader John Horgan’s sudden election call is the latest delay for the project, halting work on a business case for a new crossing that still includes an eight to 10-lane bridge as well as the twin tunnel option favoured by Metro Vancouver municipalities.

Speaking on behalf of the NDP, Delta North candidate Ravi Kahlon acknowledged that three years after cancelling the original bridge project, his government has not yet approved a design or decided between a bridge and a tunnel. That decision will come by the end of the year, he said.

RELATED: Massey crossing business study halted for snap election

RELATED: Pattullo bridge gets priority, union-only construction deal

Wilkinson said the Massey bridge would be built without tolls, mindful of the removal of tolls from the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges that proved popular in Maple Ridge and Surrey where both parties are campaigning feverishly for the Oct. 24 election.

The B.C. Liberal government had a contract for $2.4 billion to build the Massey bridge, replacing a tunnel put in the river more than 60 years ago and now considered at risk in an earthquake. The B.C. Liberals say a new bridge will be financed out of an $8 billion “Rebuild B.C.” fund, which is in addition to existing infrastructure plans including the Langley and Vancouver rapid transit extensions now in progress.

The tunnel option could mean a delay of up to 10 years in getting a new crossing ready for use, since the Tsawwassen First Nation has opposed the plan and would likely challenge it in court due to the impact of dredging the river on Fraser River salmon, Wilkinson said. At a minimum, the tunnel option triggers a federal environmental assessment of the fish habitat impact, and if approved, the dredging and relocation of thousands of tonnes of salt-contaminated river bottom soil to create a trench for the twin tunnels.

Just before the announcement, the NDP campaign issued a statement claiming the switch would “risk major delays, risk losing federal funding and set the project back years.” Kahlon said he doesn’t know how lonh a federal fisheries review of tunnel dredging and construction would take, but the previously approved bridge would “turn Richmond into a parking lot.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Dupras family has been regulars at the Babine River and have seen plentiful grizzlies over the years. (Jay Dupras photo/Lakes District News)
A family’s close encounter with a grizzly on Babine River bridge

Photo-enthusiasts let the bear access the bridge for photos putting others at risk

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

(File graphic)
Man dies in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) after being taken into police custody

IIO and BC Corners Service conducting independent investigations

Dan Stuart (Christian Heritage Party - BC photo)
Strong values underpin Christian Heritage Party candidate

He’s also suspicious of the COVID-19 pandemic

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read