More roads and crossings could mean bad news for Delta farmland.
That's what Doug Massey had to say about Premier Christy Clark's announcement last week that a process would begin to look at replacing the outdated George Massey Tunnel.
The tunnel is named after Massey's father, the late George Massey, who was the driving force behind getting an underwater crossing built to connect Delta with the rest of the Lower Mainland.
Massey is concerned more farmland in both Delta and Richmond, as well as potentially environmentally sensitive habitat, could be lost to a new crossing, which would require new roads, interchanges and offramps.
"We just got a Ramsar dedication, so more crossings over one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world, where could this new crossing be where it wouldn't do some damage to the existing environment?
The farmland has already been kicked to death and the (Burns) bog is being chewed apart."
Massey, a longtime community activist and former Delta councillor, said a lack of foresight by the Social Credit government in the 1950s played a big role in the bottleneck of today.
He said the engineering firm behind the tunnel project, Christiani and Nielsen, originally recommended the crossing have three lanes in each direction, as well as pedestrian and bike lanes, but the government decided two lanes in each direction were enough.
Noting another tunnel can't be constructed too close to the existing one because that could cause serious damage, Massey wonders where another tunnel or bridge would be constructed. A bridge, especially, could prove a challenge because a lot of land would be required on either side for the approaches, he said.
"The only thing I can see if they put in another crossing is that it'd have to be east of the tunnel. That would direct itself straight toward the bog.
"I don't know how this is going to solve any problems when you get into Vancouver. where you don't have a highway. The Oak Street Bridge was also built too small, but if you built that bridge wider you still wouldn't have any streets in Vancouver that are wide enough to take that additional traffic," he said.
Massey wonders if Premier Christy Clark's announcement last week to civic politicians is nothing more than a desperate attempt to score some political points.
In 2008, a pro-Gateway Program group called Get Moving B.C. released a report recommending the replacement of the tunnel with an eight-lane bridge.
The recommendation in the report, Bridging the Infrastructure Gap, was part of a series of major upgrades that go well beyond the current $3 billion work plan of the provincial Gateway Program.
The report concluded three major crossings are needed to meet what's going to be major population growth south of the Fraser River.
As far as the George Massey Tunnel, everyone recognizes it's been woefully inadequate for years, said Patrick O'Connor, principal author of the report, in an interview that year.
"I think everyone we've talked to, and I've been in that lineup a few times trying to get from one side to another, believes the tunnel really needs to be replaced, and you need much more capacity," he said.
O'Connor said most drivers would likely favour a bridge.
© Copyright 2013