Richmond city council asks NDP government to suspend work on George Massey Tunnel replacement

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      In an 8-1 vote, Richmond council has decided to ask the province not to proceed with a new 10-lane toll bridge over the Fraser River.

      Instead, council wants the NDP government to consider other options, including twinning the four-lane George Massey Tunnel.

      Nearly five years ago, then premier Christy Clark promised a new bridge, which is expected to cost $3.5 billion, and made it one of the centrepieces of her party's reelection campaign this year.

      Richmond politicians have long complained that a 10-lane crossing would lead to far greater bottlenecks near the Oak Street Bridge.

      The new bridge has also been opposed by most mayors in the region, who criticized the B.C. Liberal government for not considering alternatives.

      “A 10-lane bridge just induces traffic. It encourages more people to drive,” City of North Vancouver mayor Darrell Mussatto told the Georgia Straight last year.

      Metro Vancouver chair Greg Moore said at the time that "something smaller" than a new 10-lane crossing was required.

      The regional government has raised concerns that a new 10-lane bridge could ultimately result in the conversion of agricultural and industrial land to other uses.

      In 2013, Straight contributor Daniel Wood wrote a long feature on the impact of various south of the Fraser River projects on agriculture and wildlife.

      Wood noted that the George Massey Tunnel is an impediment to the largest new container ships, which have a draft of 39.5 feet.

      He also pointed out that the top of the tunnel at high tide is 40.5 feet below the surface of the Fraser River.

      "There is no room for error," Wood wrote. "Otherwise, hundreds of commuters could drown."

      Since then, sustainable-transportation activists have repeatedly questioned why the public should have to pay for a 10-lane bridge just so the largest container ships in the world can reach enlarged port facilities up the Fraser River.