Remember when we asked you your thoughts around replacing the Massey Tunnel along Highway #99, and what some of those alternatives might be? There was a consultation website, open houses… Well, you shared. More than 2,000 people participated in the on-line engagement and at open houses in Delta, Richmond and Surrey between November 2012 and April 2013. What we heard was summarized in two reports, the second of which was released today. And the results… you want a bridge. A bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel.
And that wasn’t all. Not only did you indicate you supported a new bridge on Highway 99, we also learned a few other things:
- Strong support for resolving the problem of congestion, safety and reliability at the Massey Tunnel.
- Strong desire for transit, cycling and pedestrian improvements, including protecting the Highway 99 corridor for future rapid transit.
- Doing nothing is not an option; strong opposition to only improving the existing tunnel.
All this was announced to by BC Premier Christy Clark and Transportation Minister Todd Stone at an event during the annual Union of BC Municipalities conference and in a news release.
So what happens next?
We figure out the scope of the project and create a business case. Engineering and technical work is already starting on this for the new bridge and any Highway 99 corridor improvements associated with it. Once this has been done, we’ll present it for public discussion next spring, ensuring that the project remains on track for construction to begin in 2017.
Until then, the ministry will start working to lengthen the Steveston off-ramp on Highway 99 at the north end of the George Massey Tunnel. This is to improve safety and reduce Highway 99 congestion for motorists at this location. That project will go to tender by the end of September.
If you want to learn more about all this, the our ministry intends to open an office for the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project on Steveston Highway near the tunnel, where you can find out more about the project. The office will be open later this fall.
Below are some frequently asked questions we’re getting too so we thought it might be handier if we share them here (but you can also find them on the Massey Tunnel FAQ page)
Why build a new bridge?
Consultation results indicate that people prefer a bridge instead of a tunnel. A new bridge will have improved safety and security for traffic, pedestrians and cyclists, fewer impacts on agricultural land, fewer disturbances on the Fraser River, fewer construction risks and greater cost and schedule certainty.
Building a new bridge, and removing the old tunnel, also creates opportunities for environmental and community improvements to the Fraser River, and at Deas Island Park and Deas Slough.
How long will it take to construct the bridge?
Construction is expected to begin in 2017, meaning a new crossing could be fully operational by end of 2022. A lot of technical analysis and environmental review work remains to be completed between now and start of construction.
How much will a new bridge cost?
It’s too soon to say. Over the next several months, the ministry will conduct additional technical analysis, assess transit options, draft a business case and prepare a project definition report. This work will be ready for public discussion next spring.
Will the new bridge be tolled to finance the construction costs of the project?
Right now, the Ministry is focused on understanding what the bridge and associated improvements to Highway 99 could look like. We have to confirm the scope of the project, including the crossing and the rest of the Highway 99 corridor. That’s what we’ll be doing over the next several months. Until then, all potential financing options are on the table.
As you can see, there’s still quite a bit of work yet to happen, but in the meantime, you can enjoy a virtual “flyover” below: