Meeting with ministry gave former Liberal government tunnel options

Editor:

Much has been said by the former Liberal government and its representatives about getting the facts for the replacement of the George Massey Tunnel.

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Unbeknown to the public, a meeting was held on April 4, 2013 between the Ministry of Transportation and Tunnel Engineering Consultants (TEC) of the Netherlands to update the ministry on the state of the art of immersed tunneling. 

The content of the 60-page presentation included introduction of TEC worldwide tunnel projects both recent and proposed, and cost effective options for the George Massey Tunnel. Special attention was given to tunnel safety, earthquake resistance design and comparison with bridge solutions.

The following are quotes taken from that presentation:

1.Tunnels are more suited for various and poor soil conditions.

2. Tunnels are shorter in length than a bridge and have a smaller footprint.

3.Tunnels can be built parallel and close to existing tunnels.

4.Tunnel construction is capable of dealing with severe seismic conditions.

5.Tunnel construction where 80 to 90 per cent of the work could be done by local contractors.

6.Tunnels can be built “safer than an open highway.”

The last 14 pages of the presentation dealt with TEC’s selection of appropriate options, possible cross sections, layouts and options for future use of the George Massey Tunnel.

TEC recommended the following:

1. To assess the structural integrity and durability of the present tunnel.

2. Increase river depth by replacing riprap with an asphalt mattress.

3.Introduction of longitudinal ventilation and use current ventilation ducts as escape cell and for passage of pedestrians and cyclists.

4.Move ballast concrete to ventilation ducts and increase internal height of tunnel.

The entire report is available, on request, from me.

The report from TEC was not made available to the public and was not appropriately considered by the former Liberal government. A freedom of information request (FOI) to the Liberals yielded a response of “no records.” A recent FOI request has released the buried report which reveals viable, safe, cost effective options of upgrading the existing tunnel and adding a second tunnel beside it. 

This report has now been made available, by the public, to new Transportation Minster Claire Trevena.

So, you see, the former Liberal government never revealed the true facts or alternatives to the public. Instead, it followed the demands of the Port of Vancouver and wrote fear mongering reports that suited its agenda of removing the George Massey Tunnel and deepening the lower Fraser River to suit present and future industrial interests.

This would destroy not only a perfectly good river crossing, but a bog land and a marshland, known the world over as vital component for a continued healthy ecosystem that supports a migratory food source for all marine and wildfowl life from the headwaters of the Fraser River along migratory routes of the Pacific Coast.

May the true facts be known. 

Douglas George Massey

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