Bridging the gap

With the fate of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project in limbo these days, the folks over at municipal hall are doing what they can to keep the $3.5-billion initiative alive.

A bit of a lone wolf when it comes to supporting the 10-lane bridge, Delta now finds itself without a like-minded Liberal government, so it’s put together a comprehensive package of information in an effort to convince the incoming NDP government that it should carry on with the controversial project.

Delta has focused its persuasion efforts on the need to safeguard the public and the economy, particularly as it relates to the tunnel’s seismic situation, as well as the costs and shortcomings of other crossing options.

I’ve read through the package and it’s clear that Delta has rounded up some compelling evidence to support its position.

A couple of things stood out to me, including the sobering contention that it’s not technically feasible to upgrade the tunnel to meet current seismic standards, a finding of a report done a decade ago after the first phase of seismic work had been undertaken.

A more recent report says the tunnel would only be able to withstand a one-in-275-year earthquake, which is far below today’s one-in-2,475-year standard.

As far as building a new tunnel rather than a bridge, a favourite rallying cry of project opponents, reports in Delta’s package show it would be more costly ($4.3 billion vs. $3.5 billion), have greater environmental impacts and take far longer to get the necessary approvals.

Civic officials are looking to get a face-to-face meeting with premier-designate John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver to explain all this to them in person in the hopes of convincing them not to delay or abandon the bridge project.

You have to be living under a rock, or perhaps just at 12th and Cambie, to suggest nothing needs to be done about B.C.’s biggest bottleneck, so if the two leaders accept that action is required, Delta has put forward a persuasive argument that a bridge is not only the way to go, but, due to public safety, is needed sooner than later.

It’s anyone’s guess whether this effort will succeed because we all know that politics trumps data every time.

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