The B.C. Liberals were quick to react to Thursday’s announcement that the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project has been suspended, saying a potential cancellation to further a political agenda puts commuters’ safety at risk.
“This is an unacceptable delay for those who travel through the tunnel every day,” said Delta South MLA Ian Paton. “This is a project that needs to be built in order to protect those who could be caught in the tunnel during an earthquake, as well as relieve pressure on the worst bottleneck in the province. This will cost taxpayers millions right now and likely billions when the NDP realize a new crossing, a bridge, is needed.”
The Liberals note the replacement bridge would save rush-hour tunnel commuters up to 30 minutes a day while benefits would be felt across the province by improving the safe, efficient movements of people and goods along a route that carries $25 billion worth of goods per year.
“Building a bridge is the most safe and cost efficient way to get people across the river,” said Richmond-Queensborough MLA Jas Johal. “This project has undergone five years of planning and consultation and the NDP don’t even have anyone appointed to lead this review, let alone an actual plan to replace the tunnel. This to me looks like certain projects and issues are not a priority for this government unless it serves their political aspirations.”
The Liberals also point out the thousands of construction jobs that could be lost, however, B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said he’s glad the government is reviewing options.
“In our Confidence and Supply Agreement, we agreed that transit and transportation infrastructure must be developed in cooperation with the Mayors’ Council in a way that reduces emissions, creates jobs and gets people home faster,” Weaver said.
Green MLA Adam Olsen added, “This project is not part of the Mayor’s Council 10-year plan for regional transportation. It is essential that such costly and major projects be planned in an integrated fashion in cooperation with municipal officials so that we can meet the transportation needs of British Columbians in the most efficient and cost-effective way.”
• A newly released Angus Reid Global survey commissioned by the Association of Consulting Engineers of B.C. and the B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association suggests the majority of Metro Vancouver residents support replacing the aging tunnel with a higher capacity bridge.
According to the survey, four-in-five Metro residents have used the tunnel in the last year and most experienced delays. The survey notes 65 per cent of respondents say the province should implement the existing plan, even if the majority of municipal governments in the region are against it.