Can provincial government pay for two new crossings?

We’ll all have to wait for the report.

That’s what the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has to say about the fate of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project when asked if improvements to the Highway 99 corridor could be put on hold until the completion of the Pattullo Bridge replacement.

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“The province is very aware of the congestion affecting people in the Metro Vancouver area, and addressing it in the most effective way possible remains a priority for the ministry. That is why we are working to find a solution for the George Massey crossing. An independent technical review is underway and will help ensure we make a decision that is best for the region and the province, reflects the views and vision of Metro Vancouver,” according to a statement from the ministry.

Delta’s engineering department recently conveyed concern whether the province will be able to fund two new crossings, whether a Massey replacement can be done without federal funding and whether the Massey project will be further postponed.

Preliminary work on a 10-lane bridge project began last year and it was scheduled for completion in 2022. The project was suspended last September by the New Democrat government, which later announced an independent technical review that is to be completed this spring.

Adding to the uncertainty was last month’s announcement by Premier John Horgan that the province would provide $1.37 billion to fund a replacement for the aging Pattullo Bridge. Construction of the four-lane span is set to begin next summer.

As to concerns whether a Highway 99 project is on hold until the Pattullo replacement is done, the ministry would only state the next steps will be determined based on the technical review’s analysis.

Noting the opposition by other regional mayors to the bridge was purely politics so they could have the money for their own infrastructure wish lists, Mayor Lois Jackson said she’s concerned the technical review could result in a “do nothing” approach, resulting in more years of study and consultation. Even if there’s a recommendation to proceed with the original project in some form, the cupboard, as far as financing, could be bare, she added.

The Massey project was under the province’s purview, while a Pattullo replacement had been up to TransLink and regional mayors, however, the province stepped in to take over that responsibility.

At Jackson’s recent Mayor’s Economic Business Breakfast, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena defended the decision to proceed on the Pattullo, saying it’s about safety and not one project over the other.

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