Delta mayor vows to move Massey Tunnel replacement along however he can

Despite hopes that the timeline could be pushed up, the B.C. government has confirmed the George Massey Tunnel replacement won’t be completed until at least 2030.

Delta Mayor George Harvie was among the many people who were hopeful the project could be done earlier than initially anticipated.

“The assessment period will be about two years. They are actually starting improvements on the Richmond side and they’re much needed with regards to the Steveston access and exit. So I’m pleased that they’re doing projects which don’t have to be wrapped up into the environmental assessment and will help, to some degree, the traffic congestion that exists now,” he told CityNews Tuesday, following an open house in the community.

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“But the environmental assessment, once it’s decided and a certificate is actually produced for the project, then you’ll see active construction begin.”

It was at Tuesday’s open house in Tsawwassen that the province confirmed its plans. Harvie says the project manager and several members from the Environmental Assessment Office were available to take questions and speak with attendees.

‘I have to be optimistic that we’re going to have a replacement’

The aging tunnel, which frequently sees traffic bottlenecks and delays for commuters, is set to be replaced by an eight-lane tunnel.

“I have to be optimistic that we’re going to have a replacement. As you know, I’ve always said I’m agnostic to whether it’s a bridge or a tunnel, but we need to get on with replacing the aging infrastructure that’s there now. So I have to be optimistic that it’s moving forward,” Harvie said.

When plans were announced in August 2021, the BC NDP estimated the cost to be $4.15 billion.

A rendering of the Massey Tunnel replacement

A new, eight-lane tunnel has been chosen to replace the aging Massey Tunnel crossing. (Credit: B.C. Government)

While Harvie is not thrilled with the idea of waiting another eight years for the project to be completed, he is assuring his city that he’ll do what he can to try to move the process along.

“Unfortunately, it’s the product of the province and the province is responsible for replacing that infrastructure. But I will be doing everything in my position as mayor to ensure that they’re moving along as fast as they can,” said Harvie.

“It’s a long time and I really feel for people, including ourselves who go through that tunnel. Fortunately, I don’t have to go on a regular basis, but I do do it probably more often than others. But it’s tiresome, it’s frustrating when you’re sitting in the lineups both going and coming back. I feel for the people who are heading north on a routine basis in afternoon rush hour in one lane that barely moves. It’s going to be a long wait for those people.”

Massey Tunnel ‘active transportation’

The tunnel replacement, which goes hand-in-hand with Highway 99 corridor revitalization, includes plans to build a bus connection along Bridgeport Road, as well as a multi-use pathway along the Oak Street Bridge. That pathway will be dedicated to cycling, pedestrian, and transit.

Harvie says one of his main focuses is on access for bikes and e-bikes.

“Something that’s very popular in Delta, with the routes that we have and our flat lands. A lot of people are trying to commute to work that way now,” he said.

“My concern was focusing on the active transportation route on the Delta side and we want to make sure that it’s going to function very well and also provide a second exit out of Ladner.”

Another open house is being held between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Hilton on Minouru Boulevard in Richmond.

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