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Getting a second exit out of Ladner not looking good

The estimated cost of the tunnel crossing project is approximately $4.15 billion and it is projected to be completed in 2030
Opened in 1959, the existing crossing is to be decommissioned following the opening of the new tunnel. Sandor Gyarmati photo

It’s not looking promising that a second exit out of Ladner will be part of the George Massey Tunnel replacement project.

Council recently approved a staff recommendation on what meetings municipal officials should try to land with the province during September's Union of BC Municipalities convention, including one with Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming regarding adding a River Road overpass that can be a second exit.

It was a component of the previous Liberal government’s bridge project that was scrapped and not included in the current government’s tunnel crossing plan, which is scheduled for construction completion in 2030.

The City of Delta has long advocated for a second crossing be included as party of the project.

Representatives with Transportation Investment Corp. (TI Corp.) made it clear to council during updates on the Fraser River Tunnel Project that the province is proceeding with the environmental assessment and procurement process for the project as-is, unless the government indicates it has received enough funding from the federal government to make the addition.

Based on Premier David Eby’s recent war of words with the feds over how federal funding is being allocated among the provinces, it doesn’t sound promising as no specific crossing dollar commitment has even been announced by the feds.

Eby last week reiterated his frustration at the lack of federal funding on projects such as the $4.15-billion replacement for the aging tunnel.

He also noted his government is considering joining Newfoundland and Labrador’s court case against the feds over equalization payments.

Mayor George Harvie, in an interview with the Optimist earlier this year, also conveyed frustration, saying he has lost faith in the feds.

Harvie was reacting to a news report on federal funding for new highway infrastructure projects, noting an assurance to fund the George Massey Tunnel replacement project had been made years ago but dollars, so far, have yet to be committed.

“As the mayor, I really don’t have confidence in the federal government. They have not provided any assurances that they are going to fund portions of the George Massey Tunnel replacement and no funding at all providing any funding for the second exit out of Ladner,” said Harvie.

When asked about the status of federal dollars for the tunnel replacement and the city’s ongoing call for a second exit to be included in the project, Fleming told the Optimist during a news conference last December that his government sympathizes with the City of Delta’s request, but it will be up to whatever funding arrives from Ottawa.

He said there is already an understanding about the importance of the Highway 99 corridor, the tunnel and its congestion problems, and that they were hopeful there is going to be an opportunity for the federal government to deliver “a commitment that they’ve explicitly made on a number of occasions to be a funding partner.”

A recent update report to Metro Vancouver’s George Massey Crossing Task Force said the province’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) issued a Process Order for the project on March 22, 2024 and the project proceeded to the Application Development and Review phase of the Environmental Assessment process. The proponent is currently preparing an application for an Environmental Assessment Certificate and engaging with First Nations and the Technical Advisory Committee.

During the Application Review, there will be an opportunity for the public to provide feedback during a public comment period. TI Corp. is expecting to complete the Environmental Assessment process before the fall of 2025.