Coming to a Highway 99 Near You: A Bridge to Replace Massey Tunnel

Bridge to Replace Massey Tunnel

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:

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24 Responses to Coming to a Highway 99 Near You: A Bridge to Replace Massey Tunnel

  1. Tim Yzerman on September 30, 2013 at 11:21 am

    This project needs to provide a corridor long multi-use path. It can use the existing City of Surrey Greenway planned corridors and the existing Shell Road corridor but overall there needs to be a pathway from the Canada Line bridge to US border.

    What happened to the MOTHI getting out of the “highways” business and instead focusing on transit expansion? We were told at our City of Surrey/SFU Transportation Lectures series by our guest speaker from the MOTHI that after the highway 1 and SFPR that they would focus on transit. Liars!

    • tranbceditor on October 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Tim,
      Thanks for your comment. The Massey Tunnel project will more than likely mean transit and multi use expansion along Highway 99, but we are still in the early stages of the project. Stay tuned!

  2. andrea on October 8, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Fully operational by 2022. Good lord, 10 years… then whatever was planned will probably be inadequate.

    How about environmental studies finished by Summer 2014, tenders close Dec 2014, construction set for 2017 completion. The UBC engineering department could probably complete all studies and engineering over 1 semester!

    Since the Golden Ears and Port Mann are tolled, what other options could possibly be considered. Vancouver City wouldn’t get a bridge at the entire areas expense would they, while those in the outlying district of the GVRD have to pay for their own bridges.

  3. Lisa malone on October 12, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I would like to know if changes are planned for highway 17 and Ladner trunk intersection? As a resident of 59A I am concerned that expansion will run right over my home.

  4. Bob Liptak on December 13, 2014 at 9:23 am

    If the construction of the bridge results in negatively Inpacting the value of home real estate prices in the immediate area what if any compensation would be considered?

    • tranbceditor on December 15, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. We have forwarded your question for a reply. Stay tuned.

  5. Jim on December 18, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I have heard that River Road will go under the bridge ramp and connect with River Road to the north side of the new bridge. I heard that the reason for this was to allow residents from the south side of the bridge to access the bridge via River Road and Vassey and avoiding the Ladner Trunk – Highway 17A route, is this true?

    Thanks for your response.


    • tranbceditor on December 30, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your question. I’ve passed it on to the local area. Stay tuned.

    • tranbceditor on December 30, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Hi again, Jim. The clearance of the new bridge and River Road South off-ramp will provide enough space for River Road South to be connected underneath the Delta approach to the new bridge. However, as River Road South is a municipal road under the jurisdiction of the Corporation of Delta, it will be up to the municipality to decide whether this connection will be made and, if so, when.

    • Al Aleksich on April 22, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      What are the exact footing locations for the new bridge and how close in metres is the Polygon development at Mariner Cove..
      What is the noise decibel count of a 10 lane highway and impact to Ladner community. I have seen booklet but I am looking for exact locations of highway in relationship to any Ladner community homes.

  6. Paul on January 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Hi there,
    It seems like there hasn’t been an update on this project in a while. What is the status? Also, I am interested in hearing more about Hwy 99 expansion from the new bridge to the border. I live in South Surrey and travel to DT Vancouver 5 days a week on transit so I am very interested in the project.
    Thank you

    • tranbceditor on January 14, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      Hi Paul, we’ll certainly share what we know so far. We are moving ahead to replace the George Massey Tunnel. Background-wise, an engineering analysis, technical work and stakeholder consultation over the past two years has supported development of a project definition report for the new bridge and associated Highway 99 corridor improvements. This includes working with municipal, Metro Vancouver and TransLink staff to ensure regional and local input.

      The project definition report will be available for public discussion in the coming months. As well, the project will be subject to a provincial environmental review and we anticipate that environmental assessment consultation will also begin soon. We remain on track for construction to begin in 2017.
      We’ll definitely give out more information as it becomes available.

  7. Les Bendo on April 29, 2015 at 11:51 am

    What are the improvements to Highway 99 further north of the new bridge? Westminster hwy, Oak street bridge?

    • tranbceditor on April 29, 2015 at 3:06 pm

      Hello Les,
      We have not finalized the scope but anticipate most works (widening and drainage improvements) will be between Westminster Highway in Richmond and Ladner Trunk Road in Delta.
      Hope this helps.

  8. Bill on September 25, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    I assume the tunnel will remain open but how will this work? just curious. As far as tolling is concerned why not add one or two cents per liter to the price of all fuels sold in the province. That way the cost of all road building and maintenance as well as any crossing costs would be addressed anywhere in the province. The funds collected would have to be in a dedicated account just for the purpose of transportation including ferry service, just a suggestion.

  9. GMJ on September 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    There is a huge real environmental implication, indirectly linked to the new bridge – the compulsory removal of the original tunnel and the presumed deeper dredging of the river bed. The dredging is to allow deeper draft freighters up river to the South Fraser terminals. I believe that this shipping objective drives this project, as much or more than the alleviation of the Massey Tunnel traffic bottle neck. We have seen the issues of saltwater intrusion further up the south Fraser arm this year related to farm water intakes. If global climate change continues, lower Fraser water flows will further magnify the problem even without this dredging. The only material issue surfacing to date on this topic is agricultural use, but a deeper dredged south arm of the Fraser could change the entire ecosystem on the south arm, and also introduce salt water affects on civil structures in the area (concrete, steel, boats, or other items in contact with the river water) where there were no concerns in the past, as it always was fresh water. Our world is awash in salt water – only 2.5% of world water is fresh (and that includes a high percentage of highly polluted sources of fresh water in that 2.5%). I am not anti-bridge, but do believe we are opening up an irreversible Pandora’s Box in the removal of the tunnel and river dredging. I truly wonder if a twinning of the current tunnel (using good engineering standards), and letting the deep draft ships go to the other freight terminals, which can presently handle them, is not a better alternative?

    • tranbceditor on October 26, 2015 at 10:04 am

      Hello again,

      We spoke with the George Massey Tunnel replacement team about your questions and concerns and here is what they had to say:

      We continue to explore options for tunnel decommissioning and it remains to be seen whether all or part of the tunnel will be removed.

      If the tunnel were removed and the riverbed restored, there would be no significant change to the behaviour of the saltwater intrusion up the Fraser River. There are no specific plans to deepen the river at this location, and no dredging is contemplated as part of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, other than temporary measures to support construction.

      River hydrology studies are continuing as part of the project to confirm the work to date. The project is also working with the local agricultural community to ensure sharing of study results as the project moves forward.

      Any dredging in the Fraser River is the responsibility of Port Metro Vancouver and you may want to contact them as to any plans they may have regarding dredging. Here is their contact information:

  10. Allan Castle on March 7, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Hi. We are glad a tunnel is being built. Somewhat surprised to see no mention of what is probably the “elephant in the room” in this discussion: tunnels freak a significant portion of the public out, and having a bridge instead may result in a lot less anxiety (and possibly better driving behaviour).

    Not that it matters overly, but was this issue considered, or did it come up, in the consultations? I ask because this anxiety is the most common thing I hear, more than traffic complaints, about the tunnel. “Oh, I hate driving in the tunnel, it freaks me out.” And yet it appears not to have played a part in the planning, as if this were meaningless.

    • tranbceditor on March 8, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Allan,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. The George Massey Tunnel will be replaced with a bridge, not another tunnel. The current tunnel will be decommissioned after the bridge construction is complete. We will share your question about tunnel anxiety with the project team. The project website is a great source of information on the considerations which went into the development of the project plan:

    • tranbceditor on March 29, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Hello again Allan,

      We shared your comment regarding the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project with the project team and they informed us that they continue to hear about the anxiety some people associate with tunnels and confirmed that it was one of the many factors that resulted in the majority of stakeholders preferring a new bridge.

  11. Mary Manning on May 25, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Has the porposed bridge placement been defined? There are concerns that the placement of the new bridge impact current residential communities negatively?
    For example, residential communities in Ladner that neighbour the current tunnel; could on-ramps or bridge height /shadowing be predicted?

    Have you a defined placement for the bridge?
    Thank you.

  12. Walter Melnyk on July 14, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Greater Vancouver has an infamous history of transportation projects – see Lions Gate Bridge and Massey Tunnel – that are “at capacity” upon opening and are then totally overwhelmed as growth marches forward.
    Anyone attempting to go north these days from 3-6:30pm can see the system has really broken down – cars literally DO NOT MOVE until the lane is restored.
    So, waiting until 2022 is terrifying – especially given the rate of population expansion.
    And now my question, given our continued growth why not keep both the tunnel while adding a new bridge? We need every single lane we can get.

    • tranbceditor on July 21, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Hi Walter,

      Thanks for your comments about the George Massey Tunnel and the bridge that will replace the tunnel.

      Continuing to operate the George Massey Tunnel beyond the next few years not an option, as the tunnel (built in the 1950s) does not meet modern seismic standards. A new bridge would provide seismic performance in
      accordance with current engineering standards.

      The new 10-lane bridge to be built, includes improvements that will enhance traffic flow and safety, taking into consideration current and forecast future demand for travel based on local and regional population and employment growth plans. These involve:
      * Replacing Highway 99 interchanges at Westminster Highway, Steveston Highway and Highway 17A with high performance interchanges that minimize roadway footprint.
      * A dedicated off ramp at River Road to Ladner.
      * New roadway lanes between Highway 91 in Delta and Westminster Highway.
      * Dedicated transit/HOV lanes and additional roadway lanes that remove the need for counterflow operations.

      You’ll find more information about the project, and the advantages of a bridge over a new tunnel here:
      Here’s an overview of the bridge project:
      You might also find the Project Definition Report of interest:
      Lastly, there is the project website, which includes the engagement report and the option for you to sign up to receive more information.:

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