The provincial Liberal government remains steadfast in its commitment to build a bridge to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel, says Delta South MLA Ian Paton.
Saying the bridge remains the best, most viable option, the rookie Liberal MLA clarified a statement in last week's Throne Speech that said the Liberals are reconsidering the design of the bridge and "recognizing concerns" about it.
Paton said in no way does that mean the Liberals are looking at crossing alternatives, something that has already been examined, but rather addressing concerns conveyed by the City of Richmond over the associated road network.
"The premier, I believe, recently had a meeting with Malcolm Brodie, the mayor of Richmond. Apparently they are a bit concerned with the design on the Richmond side of the bridge, the interchange and those things," Paton explained.
Although the Liberals won all four seats in Richmond, the city council has been vocal in its opposition to the bridge.
The future of the bridge project is unclear as the minority Liberal government is certain to go down to defeat in a confidence motion by the NDP-Green alliance.
The New Democrats and Greens endorsed the 10-year transportation plan by Metro Vancouver's Mayors' Council, a document that doesn't include a crossing replacement of any kind. Representatives of the mayors' council recently told Delta council the tunnel is under provincial, not TransLink, jurisdiction.
In an open letter after the Throne Speech, Richmond Coun. Carol Day said Premier Christy Clark was "finally reconsidering the mega bridge."
Day is promoting a report backing up her contention that adding an immersed tunnel is a better solution, saying it's far better than a cable bridge in soil conditions such as the George Massey Tunnel location.
Paton said that argument is ridiculous and that he's talked with engineers who know plenty about building bridges, saying safe bridges are built with friction piling all over the world.
"I can talk all day about some of the ridiculous ideas like submerging another tunnel... I've always contended that slapping a brand new concrete tunnel somehow next to an old beat-up tunnel that was built in 1958 doesn't make any sense whatsoever," he said.
"Also in 1958, there's very little traffic on the Fraser River, now there's tonnes of marine traffic. So how are you going to spend two years with barges out there trying to place a tunnel to the bottom of the river, which environmentally would be a nightmare for sturgeon and salmon and aquatic life."