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Delta throwback: New tunnel proves popular

The crossing was re-named the George Massey Tunnel in 1967, three years after Massey’s death.
masset tunnel 1959
On Saturday, May 23, 1959, the Deas Island Tunnel welcomed its first vehicles, bringing with it easier access to the rest of the Lower Mainland and ushering in incredible population growth.

A year after it opened, the new Deas Island Tunnel was even more popular than expected.

In a May 5, 1960 edition of the Delta Optimist, it was reported that nearly three million vehicles had used the crossing since its opening.

George Massey, who was the driving force convincing the province to build a tunnel, reported at a Delta Board of Trade meeting at the time that there had been plenty of betting before the crossing opened whether a million would ever it.

He noted the first million drove through it by October 1959, just few months after the opening.

Serving as a Social Credit MLA from 1956 to 1960, Massey said the tunnel had carried 11 times as much traffic as the previous ferry service would have in the same period.

He added that when the new government ferry service to Vancouver Island starts up, the tunnel would be busier than ever.

The ferry service between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay opened June 9 of that year.

The tunnel was tolled until 1964 with a celebration that saw Massey pay the final toll. He died later that year.

The tunnel would be named after Massey a few years later.

The provincial government recently announced a new eight-lane immersed tunnel is to replace the George Massey Tunnel, a project that has a 2030 completion schedule.

The current tunnel is to be decommissioned.