Eight-lane tunnel won’t offer commuters much relief


For this 40-year commuter the announcement of an eight-lane replacement tunnel means business as usual.

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We already have three lanes in each direction in the rush hours when the counterflow is open. It does, of course, improve the lot of the reverse direction traffic in rush hour now fighting its way through a one-lane barrel, and so benefits all those container trucks bound for the port, or other folk rushing to catch a ferry in the morning, and both ways during the rest of the day.

But for city-bound commuters – nada. The only way this can be improved with the current proposal is if the “transit” lane, until such time as transit means SkyTrain or light rail, is used to accommodate high occupancy vehicles (HOV) as well as buses.

From my experience, the Oak Street Bridge is just as likely to be a commuter bottleneck as the Massey Tunnel. There will be little overall improvement to the Highway 99 corridor without extra lanes on Oak Street (not likely) or another crossing of the North Arm of the Fraser River.

A regional transportation plan, with coordination and cooperation of all levels of government, and bridge ownership is needed to solve this problem. Resurrection of a Fraser Street bridge (or tunnel) comes to mind as a possible solution.

In my view the best solution to the current Massey crossing is a new tunnel, but twin bored tunnels, not another immersed barrel. This would avoid all in-river excavation, and in-situ ground densification work needed for seismic safety. Environmentalists, and the fish, would be happy.

A. Wightman

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