Replacing the Massey Tunnel with a new bridge is the province's favoured project to receive federal infrastructure grants

Province defends Massey Bridge as top pick for federal grants

Mayors concerned replacement of Massey Tunnel will compete against rapid transit projects for infrastructure aid

Transportation Minister Todd Stone is defending the province’s decision to make the replacement of the Massey Tunnel B.C.’s top priority to receive new federal infrastructure grants.

The choice of the new bridge over the Fraser River – expected to cost around $3 billion – isn’t sitting well with some Metro Vancouver mayors, who worry it may effectively compete for federal cash against their rapid transit projects, as well as Metro Vancouver’s top priority of a new sewage treatment plant on the North Shore.

“It is certainly concerning that that bridge project, still somewhat undefined, would be given top billing,” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said.

Unlike transit upgrades, Brodie said, there is not broad support behind the bridge, particularly in Richmond, where there are fears it will merely shift the existing bottleneck further up Highway 99.

“We’re concerned about the cost and the business plan for it, the impacts on farmland, how effectively it deals with congestion going northbound and southbound, and how it fits with our overall transportation system and the regional growth plan.”

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said making the bridge top priority causes her “some consternation” because the mayors’ plan for transit expansion should take precedence.

Stone told Black Press the choice is “in no way intended to suggest the transit projects in Surrey and on Broadway are not critically important.”

He said new federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi was already well briefed on both the rapid transit projects, adding he walked him through the case for the George Massey project in detail in a meeting last week.

Ottawa has pledged $60 billion in net new infrastructure grants over 10 years.

Eligible projects are expected to have a strong sustainability element to them and while that might suggest transit upgrades have the inside track, Stone told federal officials the new bridge should also qualify to unclog B.C.’s worst traffic bottleneck.

“There is a very significant sustainability and environmental component to the bridge,” Stone said. “That registered with them.”

He said the project will eliminate a million hours per year of idling vehicles, add HOV lanes and dedicated transit access, as well as pedestrian and cycling options that don’t exist now at the Deas Island crossing.

The new bridge will also ease congestion for the 10,000 people a day who take transit through the tunnel, Stone added.

“It’s for all those reasons it represents the priority.”

He said federal officials are still determining the specific eligibility rules for the new program and he is urging them to also include new ferries, which were not previously eligible for federal infrastructure grants.

BC Ferries has planned $2.5 billion in projects over 12 years, including three new LNG-powered ferries as well as terminal upgrades.

The premier last week indicated she hopes more generous federal cost-sharing for infrastructure could help Metro transit projects proceed without the need to hold another transit tax referendum.

Hepner said she’s “optimistic” both senior governments are prepared to take a new approach.

The province has yet to release a detailed business plan with costing for the Massey bridge – including whether ot not it will be tolled – but Stone promised again that will come this month.

Asked if the province wants a big federal contribution for the bridge to avoid tolling the Highway 99 crossing, Stone said federal support would help offset the cost, regardless of how it is funded.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesman Jordan Bateman said the province has likely demanded the same deal for B.C. drivers as those in suburban Montreal, where the plan was to toll the new Champlain Bridge being built over the Saint Lawrence River until the Liberals made a campaign promise to keep the crossing free.

Bateman noted the federal infrastructure grants are to be back-end loaded in Liberals’ second term – if they’re re-elected – with much less money available over the first four years than B.C. politicians might think.

He said both the Massey and Pattullo bridges should be irrelevant to the infrastructure grant chase if they’re to be built by tolls.

Just Posted

Maple Ridge councillors named to local groups

Division of labour for new council

Operation Red Nose ready for 11th year in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows

The new host organization this year is Kidsport Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows.

Gardening: George and the family berry plan

Pitt Meadows family’s farm roots go back to 1925.

Letter: Premier has ‘no clue’ on PR

Or Horgan is deliberately hiding his intentions.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Clear skies for Fraser Blues Remembrance Day flyby

It was the first time the formation team flew over the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Remembrance Day ceremonies

Most fatal overdose victims did not have recent police contact: Stats Canada

11 per cent of those who fatally overdosed in B.C. had four or more contacts with the police

5 to start your day

One left dead after Abbotsford shooting, touching note left on Langley veteran’s windshield and more

Calgarians head to the polls to declare ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on Winter Games

The question “are you for or are you against hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?” was to be posed to them Tuesday in a plebiscite to help determine whether the city should move ahead with a bid.

Heir’s big birthday: 70 candles lined up for Prince Charles

Prince Charles turns 70 Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, still serving in the heir to the throne role he has filled since he was a young child.

Trudeau lays down challenge to companies in bid to boost trade with Asia

“Building the relationships, building the connections, building the facility and also changing mindsets — getting Canadian companies to see the opportunities we have around the world to partner and invest.”

One person sent to hospital after incident at Langley gas station

Police observed retrieving what appeared to be an exacto knife

CNN sues Trump, demanding return of Acosta to White House

CNN is asking for an immediate restraining order to return Acosta to the White House.

Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Most Read