It looks like a drop-dead date for the new bridge is fast approaching.
That’s according to Delta CAO George Harvie, who told Delta council last week that the new NDP government might have to decide by mid-August whether to kill the project.
Harvie, who also spoke recently to the Vancouver Board of Trade on the subject, said the structure itself has a budget set at $2.5 billion with another $1 billion targeted for improvements to the Highway 99 corridor. Preliminary work has already begun for the highway.
“The bridge, the structure, word on the street is that there has been two accepted bids, both qualified. The low bid is $2.4 billion for the bridge structure… it falls within the set budget. Apparently the approval date for the last day that can be accepted by the province is sometime in mid-August,” he said.
“We’ve asked the construction industry to have the word out to the premier and various politicians, people making decisions. I did say to the board of trade, and they’re all very supportive, is that this just isn’t Delta’s problem and Delta can’t do it on its own. We need the chambers, we need the board of trade, we need the construction industry and we need the trade unions who believe in the project to come forward.”
Harvie noted efforts are underway by other people to arrange a coalition of individuals that want to see the 10-lane, $3.5-billion bridge project go forward.
Mayor Lois Jackson said they’re still trying to arrange meetings with Premier John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver to discuss all the information that’s been compiled supporting the bridge option.
Jackson said a second tunnel “would be a huge environmental disruption to the river” and that there would be a lot of additional land required on both sides for a tunnel.
Coun. Bruce McDonald said reports by opponents that the long-term financing cost for the bridge project is well over $8 billion is unfair because all projects have long-term financing costs.
As far as the long-term costs, Harvie said, “We have yet to find any data or any reports that put that final financing figure out there. It’s not available… the same theory should apply for those voicing support for a tunnel.”
Richmond council last week voted in favour of asking the government to stop work on project until other options are explored, including Richmond’s idea of twinning the tunnel with either a two-lane or a four-lane crossing.
“We have been accused of spreading myths, which is a possible way of suggesting we are lying,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie.
Also last week, Jackson’s request to make a presentation on the bridge at the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council was voted down.
“The TransLink mayors don’t have even five minutes to consider one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in Canada,” fumed Jackson.
Wanting the new government to look at alternatives, the Metro Vancouver board is asking Horgan for a status update on the bridge project.