We’ll soon know if a new bridge or another tunnel is planned for Delta.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is expected in the next few weeks to announce a business case has been completed for the preferred option to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel.
The ministry, this summer, said that despite COVID-19, work continues on the business case and it’s to be completed before the end of this year.
The ministry earlier this year unveiled the two replacement options, one being an immersed eight-lane tunnel and the other being a long-span bridge with the same number of lanes.
The tube option would have a similar grade as a bridge and would also be taller inside than the current tunnel, requiring a deeper trench in the river.
The ministry notes that while there would be in-river impacts during construction, there’s also potential for in-river habitat enhancement.
The option would also be a shorter crossing compared to a bridge, while having a comparable cost.
The tunnel project would have an estimated three-year environmental review and require five years of construction.
Also having dedicated transit lanes, a long-span bridge would have more height clearance compared to the Liberal government’s previous bridge plan.
That project would have a one-to-two year environmental review and require five years for construction.
An estimated price tag wasn’t provided for either option.
The ministry on Friday announced it is in the process of identifying property necessary for future infrastructure improvements on Highway 99 near the current tunnel.
It’s as an initial step while the business case for the new crossing is being completed.
“We continue to make progress toward selecting the right solution for a new crossing of the Fraser River on Highway 99 that aligns with regional plans,” said Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon, on behalf of Transportation Minister Claire Trevena. “I know people want traffic congestion relief at the George Massey Tunnel without having to pay unfair tolls. Today's announcement shows our government is taking action on much-needed improvements.”
Delta South Liberal MLA Ian Paton, however, said Kahlon and the NDP have failed Delta.
After three-and-a-half years, the NDP plans on heading into a reckless early election with nothing to show in terms of progress on the urgently needed project, he said.
“The previous BC Liberal bridge would have been close to complete by this point. Instead, the NDP brags about 'continuing to make progress' towards an eventual solution,” Paton said.
Identifying property required for future infrastructure improvements along the corridor does not mean that the preferred solution for the crossing has been determined, the ministry notes, adding that the decision will be made by government following the business case review.
In the interim, $40 million in safety improvements are underway inside the existing tunnel.
That project is scheduled to be complete by spring 2021.
The tunnel is to be decommissioned when the new crossing is built.