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Still no word on second Ladner exit

The project is still proceeding based on a second exit not being part of the scope
Delta has been advocating for a River Road overpass to provide a secondary access from Ladner. Province of BC image

Will there or won’t there be a second exit out of Ladner?

That’s the multi-million-dollar question that remains to be answered as the B.C. government this week announced the next phase in the process that will see the aging George Massey Tunnel replaced with a new eight-lane immersed tube crossing.

Following a request for qualifications, three bid teams have been invited to participate in the next phase of procurement, invited to submit proposals for the competitive selection process to enter into a design early works agreement with the province, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Following the evaluation of submissions to the request for proposals, the province will choose the project’s design-build team. It is anticipated the team will be on board in spring of 2024.

Concurrent with procurement, the Fraser River Tunnel Project continues through the province’s environmental assessment process. The project received its readiness decision last month.

What hasn’t been indicated is whether the City of Delta’s request to include a second exit from Ladner will be included as part of the overall project. It had been component of the previous Liberal government’s bridge project that had been scrapped and not included in the current government’s crossing plan.

At a recent presentation to council, Donald Trapp, Executive Director of Project Management for Transportation Investment Corp. (TI Corp.), provided an update on the latest on the Fraser River Tunnel Project.

Mayor George Harvie and Coun. Dylan Kruger reiterated the need for a second exit out of Ladner be included as part of the project.

Representatives with the Ministry of Transportation and Highways in an earlier presentation noted it would be contingent on the province receiving sufficient funding from the federal government.

Trapp told council that TI Corp. is delivering the current approved scope of the project, but the ministry continues to advance for a second exit.

Kruger responded, “I do feel there’s been a real expectation established in our community where, on the one hand, we’re being told we need to approve a lot of new housing. We’re one of 10 communities that have been put on the list to have mandatory housing targets, and yet not being given the required infrastructure money in order to support this new housing. This second exit is critical, not just for the current state of traffic in Ladner and South Delta, but for our projected future growth.”

Wondering if any studies or preliminary designs have even been made for a second overpass from River Road, Harvie said he would be going to Ottawa in his role as Delta’s mayor and chair of Metro Vancouver to advocate, a trip which took place last month.

In a letter to Premier David Eby this year, Harvie wrote, “The connection of River Road over Highway 99 remains a vital component for the City of Delta, as it provides a much needed secondary access from Ladner, as well as support pedestrian and cycling connections.”

The province notes that the new crossing will have three general-purpose travel lanes and a dedicated transit lane in each direction. The new tunnel will also feature a separate multi-use path to support pedestrians, cyclists and other active transportation options.

The project also includes replacing the existing Deas Slough Bridge and the addition of a southbound general-purpose lane on Highway 99 between Westminster Highway and Steveston Highway in Richmond.

The estimated cost of the project is $4.15 billion.

The contract award is anticipated in 2025, with construction starting in 2026 and project completion in 2030.