The business case for the crossing to replace the George Massey Tunnel is expected this fall, according to the transportation ministry.
It has been more than a decade since planning began to replace the 61-year-old tunnel which connects Richmond to Delta and in pre-pandemic times carried more than 80,000 people each day.
Metro Vancouver’s board of directors endorsed an eight-lane immersed tube tunnel to replace the current structure in November, a 180 from the previous 10-lane bridge wanted by the former Liberal government. The environmental assessment for the new tunnel is expected to take three years, with construction to take another five.
The immersed tube option is expected to be a “comparable order of magnitude cost” to the 10-lane bridge, which was estimated at $3.5 billion. The chosen option was one of six bridge and tunnel choices presented to regional officials.
In a statement, the transportation ministry said the plan remained on track and the new crossing was not expected to have tolls, which the NDP government removed from all bridges shortly after coming into office.
“It’s our goal to confirm the preferred solution and complete the business case by this fall,” the ministry said. The planned tunnel would have eight lanes, two of which would be earmarked for traffic and incorporate active transportation, like cycling.
The current Massey Tunnel has an approximately 50-year lifespan, transportation ministry staff said last fall, but does not meet current seismic standards. The province is currently working on safety improvements for the existing crossing, including LED lights to better illuminate the tunnel and save energy, and better drainage to prevent ice build-up and water from pooling at the entrances. The improvements are due to be completed by spring 2021.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.