There is a long way to go but one early hurdle in the environmental assessment phase for the replacement of the George Massey Tunnel is expected to be cleared this summer.
Currently referred to as the Fraser River Tunnel Project, the proposed new eight-lane tunnel project is currently at what’s referred to as the readiness decision phase of the process.
A required detailed project description was submitted to the BC Environmental Assessment office (BC EAO) last December and an updated version of the detailed project description was provided to the BC EAO this May.
Noting regional district technical staff, as is standard practice, review and provide comments to the BC EAO on materials relative to potential impacts on parkland, such as Deas Island Park, and nearby infrastructure, a Metro Vancouver report last week to the George Massey Crossing Task Force provided an update on where the project is at in the lengthy process.
The report said the Transportation Investment Corporation (TI Corp), a subsidiary of B.C. Transportation Finance Authority, anticipates a readiness decision to be reached later this summer.
If the detailed project description contains sufficient information, the BC EAO will recommend the project proceed to the process planning stage of the review process.
That stage formalizes how the environmental assessment must be carried out with the development of a process that establishes the scope, procedures, methods and timelines for the environmental assessment.
The process planning phase has a legislated timeline of 120 days, including a 30-day public comment review period.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure recently announced it has issued a request for qualifications for the project.
Responses to the request for qualifications are due by Sept. 14.
Following the request for qualifications, the province will then issue a request for proposals for a design-early works agreement from a short-list of qualified teams to select a single proponent to move forward in the procurement process.
The request for proposals for the design-early works agreement is scheduled for award in spring 2024, while the award of a separate design-build request for proposals is scheduled for 2025.
The estimated cost of the immersed tube tunnel is approximately $4.15 billion and is projected to be completed in 2030.
Meanwhile, Highway 99 corridor improvement projects are well underway in advance of the new tunnel project.
Those projects include, among other things, a new Steveston Interchange on the Richmond side of the river as well as extending the bus-on-shoulder transit lanes on Highway 99 in Delta.