Bridge is the only reasonable option to replace Massey Tunnel

Editor:

I wrote a detailed letter to our current government on the subject of the urgent need for a bridge to be built to replace the George Massey Tunnel. I wrote this letter months ago and have received no response.

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I am writing today to express support for a bridge to replace the tunnel. The reasons for opting for a bridge to replace the tunnel are simple. A bridge, with more lanes, will ease congestion, and it will be the safest option by far. 

As a long-time member of CUPE 1936, and former employee of Sources BC-Delta, I was privileged to hold the portfolio for occupational health and safety for my workplace. I have seen firsthand how our working people, and indeed countless others who visit our area, have been affected by the current congestion at the tunnel.

If there is to be a serious accident, a fire, chemical spill or any other disaster or serious emergency, a bridge is the only way to safely transport people out of harm’s way quickly. You cannot access the tunnel easily when there is a fire or chemical spill, and the fumes from toxic chemical smoke can affect everyone inside the tunnel, causing serious harm or death.

If this were to happen on a bridge, the fumes and smoke can escape much more easily, people can be safety air lifted out and a fire can more easily be extinguished. People's lives can be saved.   

Our current crossing is having a major negative impact on people every day. I have spoken to individuals who have been in an emergency situation and stuck in the tunnel and cannot get cell service because the tunnel is located under water. Communication with those who are in distress is important, and can be done best when the lines of communication remain open. This can be much better accomplished with a bridge.

I have witnessed firsthand the tunnel filling with smoke and fumes while being stuck inside. I have seen trucks that barely clear the confines of the tunnel, and are so tall and wide that they break the interior lights, and come dangerously close to hitting other vehicles.

I have witnessed cyclists attempt to ride through the tunnel, which is not allowed, and who barely escape with their lives.

I have been in many lineups at the tunnel over the years, but on one occasion, some distance ahead of me, a man had experienced a heart attack while driving through the tunnel. Sadly, because of a lengthy delay in first responders reaching him, he died. Perhaps he could have been saved had his medical emergency taken place on a bridge.      

The delay in a decision for the tunnel replacement has gone on long enough. The population is growing, there are large new subdivisions under construction and there is a large new mall complex open, with many more stores under construction. More and more visitors are coming here to enjoy everything our beautiful region has to offer.

Yet people's lives remain at risk. It is time for our government to make a decision. I trust that this decision will be in the best interests of the people. I remain optimistic the NDP government will announce that a bridge will replace the tunnel. It is the only reasonable option. The people of the region deserve to have a safe and efficient crossing.

Raymond Reitsma

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