A second overpass could end up being part of the George Massey Tunnel replacement project, after all.
That bit of potentially good news was conveyed at Delta council’s Feb. 13 meeting during a presentation by the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure & Transportation Investment Corporation.
Executive director Peter Argast said that while an overpass connecting River Road is not within the current scope, the province may be willing to consider the addition once the government has an idea of how much federal funding will be made available.
“We are aware that this is an issue is of importance to the City of Delta. It’s not in the current project scope. The ministry’s (of Transportation and Infrastructure) focus right now is securing a federal funding contribution for this absolutely central piece of infrastructure. The ministry is confident that will be received. Once the federal funding contribution has been secured, the ministry is open to re-examining the scope and a potential overpass at River Road,” said Argast.
The City of Delta is encouraged to work with the ministry on a potential overpass project, to ensure critical planning is undertaken if there is an opportunity to revamp the overall tunnel replacement program, he added.
Coun. Dylan Kruger, vice-chair of Metro Vancouver’s George Massey Tunnel Replacement Task Force said it’s encouraging news and the first time he’s heard the ministry is open to considering adding the second overpass, something the city has been advocating for.
“Right now…there is only one exit out of Ladner onto Highway 17A. One can exit the Massey Tunnel onto River Road, but cannot come back on River Road to connect in with Highway 99, so, it’s a critical element of Delta’s long-term plans. In fact, it’s been part of our area plans since the late 1990s to see this historical River Road East and West reconnection. I certainly feel strongly that, given the scope of a project like this, it’s important to make sure that we get it right and we see needed enhancements for our community now, rather than having to add them at a later date at probably significantly greater cost,” said Kruger
A Delta staff report endorsed by council recommended that a letter be sent to Premier David Eby and Transportation Minister Rob Fleming reiterating Delta's request to include the River Road overpass within the scope of the Massey replacement project.
Meanwhile, the provincial government’s Highway 99 Tunnel Program set up a new community information office last week at the Ladner Centre mall.