Delta commuters will find out soon whether the aging George Massey Tunnel will be replaced by a new tunnel or a bridge.
That’s according to B.C. Minister of Finance Selina Robinson during a presentation on her government’s 2021 budget to the Delta Chamber of Commerce last Tuesday (May 18).
Acknowledging the current crossing is the worst bottleneck in the province and that she’s been stuck in traffic there herself, as are her friends who live in Delta, Robinson, during the question-and-answer portion of the online meeting, was asked about the timeline of the process.
She noted the province is currently carefully analyzing the submitted business case and consulting key stakeholders.
“It’s a process that happens for every project doing a business case, whether it’s a hospital or transit or a major highway or bridge. This is the process of government for any major infrastructure. It’s making sure that we make the right decision, that we understand what all the risks are and we’re fully cognizant of what the options are,” she said.
“I know that the Minister of Transportation [Rob Fleming] has been diligent pushing this forward and making sure the business case stays very much top of mind and I’m hopeful that we’ll have a decision shortly. It’s very much a priority for us.”
Robinson said Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon has been a “tremendous advocate” and “pain in the butt” for the transportation minister when it comes to the tunnel replacement.
“I know it’s very much an active file with lots of people assessing the business case as we speak,” she added.
The province is currently considering two possible crossing options, one being an eight-lane tunnel, while the other is a bridge with the same number of lanes.
The tunnel project would have an estimated three-year environmental review and require five years of construction.
The potential bridge would be smaller than the previous Liberal government's bridge project. There would be no piers in the Fraser River for a new bridge, however, they would be required in Deas Slough. That project would have a one-to-two year environmental review and require five years for construction.
Delta MP Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, last month confirmed that a draft funding request was submitted to the federal government, but much work remains to be done.
She noted that Prime Minster Justin Trudeau had already conveyed support for the project.