The first phase of consultation for the provincial government's George Massey Tunnel replacement project has wrapped up.
Called Understanding the Need, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure held five open houses across the region during the first phase of public input.
More than 1,000 people participated in the initial consultation and the ministry will be summarizing the information received for posting to the project's website in early 2013.
In September, Premier Christy Clark announced several road projects, including starting the process to replace the 53-yearold underwater crossing.
The first open house was held Dec. 1 at the Delta Town & Country Inn, where a large crowd attended to give opinions.
At that event, project director Geoff Freer said the next phase to start early in 2013 will focus more closely on evaluating crossing options. The possibilities that have been mentioned, so far, range from refurbishing and expanding the existing tunnel to a new bridge.
Freer noted a new crossing is about a decade away, but planning needs to start now.
Several people at the open house made it clear they'd like to see the existing tunnel continue to be utilized.
A ministry report notes that despite significant population growth in municipalities south of the Fraser River, as well as employment growth in Richmond and Surrey over the past 10 years, average daily volumes through the tunnel have not grown substantially.
This is attributed, in part, to the fact the tunnel is already at capacity for a good portion of the day, so commuters divert to the Alex Fraser Bridge as well as to improved transit service.
For more information about tunnel replacement, the project's website is www.engage.gov.bc.ca/ masseytunnel/consultation.