B.C. to replace Massey Tunnel with new bridge, Premier Christy Clark announces

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      The B.C. government will replace the George Massey Tunnel with a new bridge, Premier Christy Clark announced in an address to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention today (September 20).

      Construction on the existing Highway 99 corridor will begin in 2017. The announcement follows a consultation process on options for replacing the Massey Tunnel, which Clark referred to as “the worst bottleneck in the Lower Mainland".

      “There was an overwhelming consensus,” Clark said of the consultation results. “People said the tunnel must be replaced, and it must be replaced on the same route.”

      Clark told reporters she doesn't have details yet on the cost of the new bridge, or whether drivers will be charged a toll to use the crossing.

      She noted the cost of the project could be comparable to the Port Mann bridge, which was about $830 million, in addition to another $2 billion for associated highways improvements.

      "We have a feel for how much it might cost and we’re confident we can finance it, but we’re still working on some of those details," she said. 

      In her address to convention delegates, the premier also released details of a panel on crime reduction, and announced a new “Buy B.C. program” to connect liquefied natural gas proponents with B.C. businesses.

      “Our government is going to do everything that we can to connect local B.C. businesses to the multinational corporations that are building those projects,” Clark told convention delegates.

      “Whether you’re a clean tech firm from Vancouver, or an engineering firm in Victoria, or whether you’re a tech start-up in Kelowna, we can be the matchmakers. We can make sure that those connections are made."

      Northern British Columbia communities will also have access to $150,000 in grants to assess the feasibility of infrastructure projects needed to support LNG development, Clark announced.

      The new “blue-ribbon panel” on crime reduction will be chaired by Darryl Plecas, and will include members such as former RCMP deputy commissioner Gary Bass, criminologist Geri Ellen Bemister, and professor Yvon Dandurand.

      "Too many communities, too many neighbourhoods and too many families still feel like they are living under the threat of crime, and we have to make sure that we stay ahead of it," stated Clark.

      The panel will start meeting in October, and will begin holding regional roundtable sessions early next year.

      Clark also announced that Steve Thomson, the minister of forests, lands, and natural resource operations, will take on an additional responsibility for rural development.

      The premier's speech concluded the five-day UBCM convention. Outgoing NDP leader Adrian Dix and B.C. Green MLA Andrew Weaver also addressed convention delegates this week. 




      Sep 20, 2013 at 3:39pm

      Did she happen to mention how much farmland will be destroyed by replacing the tunnel?

      Or, in the so called "consultations", improved transit was not an option?

      Or how a bridge will allow bigger ships up the Fraser including those carrying dangerous cargo and the potential of a spill that will devastate the Fraser estuary and irreplaceable habitat?

      The big winner in this announcement is the Port of Vancouver who has been pushing for this for years.

      This will just keep folks in the cars, a transportation solution that makes sense is the big loser here.


      Sep 20, 2013 at 5:48pm

      Dangerous goods are still moving with the tunnel in place. Instead trains and trucks are moving the cargo up and down residential streets just waiting for another lac megantec type incident. We need safer modes of transportation including larger vessels going up and down the fraser river. Furthermore, the tunnel is a drag on the economy, with all the cars idling on both sides of the tunnel waiting 30 plus minutes to cross. Also 2017 is too far away, the bridge should begin in 2014 and completed well before 2017.

      Darren T.

      Sep 20, 2013 at 6:33pm

      Christy is putting us through this ridiculous referendum before putting a penny towards transit infrastructure, but she can magically find a couple billion to build this bridge? Gimme a break.

      I live in White Rock and drive the tunnel (or the Alex Fraser) every day. I'd love to take transit, but it's really not an option. Forget LRT - the province didn't even provide enough money for the new 96 B-Line to connect to South Surrey/White Rock. The small-minded, short-sighted decisions on transit are ridiculous.

      Billy Bones

      Sep 20, 2013 at 8:27pm

      I guess we have to see car windows again shattered by falling ice the first time it snows.

      Admiral Benbow

      Sep 20, 2013 at 8:33pm

      Another money maker in PPP tolls, loans, bonds, tax increases, and the usual 150% in cost over runs to get some connected BC Liberals people richer..


      Sep 20, 2013 at 11:35pm

      Asrt you are kidding right? The bigger the vessel the more dangerous goods the port of van will move on the streets and tracks.. The port wants the bridge as deep sea tankers draught too much water. Car carriers are flat bottom and its why jet fuel is flat barged into Richmond.. Did anyone ask how a bridge is going to impact the farmland, the birds, and other wild life that uses the wetlands. Also who wants to have a huge bridge sitting on top of a flat delta. Heck drivers will see the bridge before the border. Bottom line is if they build the bridge its to get more vessels into the ports. Its crazy as the rest of our transport ion grid can't support it already.

      Harold Steves

      Sep 21, 2013 at 12:19am

      There are three reasons for a new billion dollar
      bridge instead of LRT. 1) shipping coal,2)shipping jet fuel, 3)shipping oil as Plan B unfolds as an alternative to a northern pipeline. The coal ships and Panamex supertankers carrying jet fuel can only get over the tunnel for an hour a day during the highest tides. Removing the rock overburden that holds the tunnel in place was considered. However, it would have endangered the public so the tunnel has to go. Tunnel traffic could be alleviated if the port allowed trucks to load at night and trucks were banned from the tunnel during rush hour. The problem would be totally solved with a new tunnel beside the present one for LRT to Delta, White rock and South Surrey. That is what was originally planned as traffic increased in the 70's. Why not today?


      Sep 21, 2013 at 12:30am

      @Darren T., I'd love to drive to Seattle without going through the hell hole and can't really take transit to Seattle. Even so, I'd be happy to support LRT at grade for anyone who wants to take transit.

      Still, as you can see, the Canada Line really didn't reduce traffic congestion, at least to any measurable extent. Cambie Street is still a disaster. The Canada Line just made it easier for people to commute farther on transit.

      Michael L

      Sep 21, 2013 at 9:50am

      How tall must this bridge be to accommodate the huge container ships that will need to pass under it? The south arm sees many large vessels using its waters daily.

      Arm Chair

      Sep 21, 2013 at 10:21am

      It definitely is the top rush-hour parking lot in Metro Vancouver and the reason many potential businesses have denied setting up shop south of that tunnel.

      And while fixing that transportation logistic choke point makes sense, there will likely be tolls in the future for people least able to afford it.

      Payment? Use their Visa and defer the Hydro problem further to the next generation...what they're so good at.