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Another cogent letter in the Richmond News written by Andy Hobbs questions the expenditure of $3.5 billion dollars (now forecast to exceed $4.5 billion dollars) on the  Massey Bridge, which at three kilometers  will be the longest bridge in the province. “The 3,000-metre proposed bridge replaces a 629-metre tunnel in order to cross a river that’s about 200-metres wide.  “
In 2004, the province invested $22.2 million in seismic upgrades to the existing tunnel which has a remaining life span of 10 to 15 years. The highest estimate for twinning the existing tunnel is $1.7 billion and takes far less time than the new bridge’s construction. 
“Of course, there are other considerations beyond practical budgetary factors. The visual footprint of the proposed bridge would dominate the surrounding flat landscape and consume arable land and planned city parkland. While the new bridge would be an impressive structure, its 10 lanes, immense multi-storey profile, and 3,000-metre length would overpower neighbourhoods on both sides of the river. Our goal, whenever practical, should be to minimize our footprint on the environment. Unlike the bridge, an enhanced twinned tunnel would provide very comparable  transportation improvements while minimizing our intrusion on the environment.”

“There’s no question that the George Massey Tunnel requires improvements to reduce traffic congestion. With more than 80,000 vehicles using the tunnel every day and 8,000 during the rush hour(s), the provincial government should be commended for committing to making improvements.”
Courage, leadership and changing one’s mind are not mutually exclusive. Too often, all of us, including governments, become too entrenched in our positions on various issues. For some, reconsideration, reflection or changing our minds or plans are seen, somehow, as weakness or indecisiveness. The willingness to listen and, perhaps, alter plans should be seen as strength, strong leadership and confidence, not weakness. In terms of the bridge, the government should demonstrate leadership, political courage and reconsider the bridge proposal.”
 
“In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the plan for a freeway through Vancouver was contentious and, eventually, it was shelved and the freeway was stopped. There wasn’t unanimity at the time and  only through a historical lens can that decision be confirmed as visionary. The George Massey Tunnel replacement is another watershed moment. It is not too late for reconsideration and to change plans.”
 
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Comments

  1. Sandra – may I say what a great job in general you’re doing on PriceTags, and particularly on keeping this boondoggle project file in the limelight? There, I did say it! Almost single-handedly, PT has made this a key provincial election issue. Keep up the good work, please!

  2. The key idea, which does not seem to get mentioned in the letter, is to get more people to use transit. It is not actually “twinning the tunnel” it is just adding another two lane tunnel, and using it for transit only. There are already exclusive bus lanes on both sides of the tunnel (how many other Metro jurisdictions have those?) If the #555 has been introduced earlier (there was no bus service crossing the old Port Mann bridge) which was perfectly possible by converting the hard shoulder to bus lane, there would have been no need at all for the new bridge.

  3. One crucial aspect missing from this post is the particular function of the proposed massive Massey bridge. It has much less to do with easing automobile congestion and everything to do with accommodating massive LNG and coal freighters on their way up to the Fraser docks. Once the tunnel is destroyed, the river can be dredged to allow for the draft needed for big panamax ships. This is contentious not only on environmental grounds – especially in regards to the destruction of salmon habitat – but concerns safety issues as well. There’s been much speculation about what would happen to nearby populations should one of those LNG supertankers explode.

  4. A provincial government that pulls a “u-turn” on this bridge will be displaying pure stupidity –
    *deleted as per editorial policy* please read the policy

    1. A provincial government that pulls a U-turn on this bridge will have been elected in part by those who oppose this stupid idea and the stupidity that leads to white elephants like it.

      1. Yet the polls show that a majority of Metro citizens want the new bridge to be built. Even comments from the opposition says that building the bridge is pandering to voters in Richmond and Delta, which obviously acknowledges that those people want it.

        1. I don’t think pandering means what you seem to think it means. You equate it with good with your reference to the opposition statements. It actually means catering to the lowest tastes and desires, providing what someone wants even though it is not proper, good, or reasonable.

        2. Eric, do your arguments always require putting unsaid words in others’ mouths?

      2. And all Metro mayors but one oppose the bridge. They are elected by the residents. I read a while back that there is a lot of resistance to the bridge in Richmond because of rightful fears of a traffic deluge, but have since lost the link.
        And if polls are to rule the day, why not just eliminate elected governments and rule by referenda on every little thing? Many polls indicate a hefty % of the populace believes in UFOs. Maybe building a landing pad for them on this monster bridge deck is part of the plan.

      3. Let’s not forget the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.
        Mayors do not control immigration nor rivers nor export policies nor harbors nor provincial highways nor federal highways nor goods flow internationally. This is a provincial highway, is it not ? Perhaps even federal as it is a highway to the US – in fact the main route N-S. As such, the mayors role ought to be limited when deciding provincial, national and international policies.

        1. Last time I checked federal and provincial politicians got elected too, Ron. Cities and their rights are a (legal) creation of the province, and provinces a creation of federal policies.

  5. Given the timelines and resistance to ANY major project these days, be it a pipeline, a new dam, a new road or a new bridge any party would be wise to build it as a re-think would costs tens of millions and a delay of at least half a decade, likely more, with continued lineups on the bridge.
    By and large roads all over the place need upgrading in BC (Highway 1 E of Kamloops, in Kelowna, South Okanagan, Lionsgate bridge, north shore, Second Narrows,, Knight Street bridge, Boundary Road extension to connect Highway 1 to Highway 91 in Richmond, around Victoria .. to name a few of many obvious places that need expansion) , AND we need more people moving public transit too. Immigration and economic growth cause more people and goods movement. Lionsgate bridge, as one obvious example was built in the 1930s for a population not even one tenth the size in W-Van. It is just common sense to build a new, wider and higher (or deeper) crossing here, and elsewhere. Of course, efficient spending of public $s need to be discussed in the same context too, and much room for improvement exists here, too.

    1. You appear to be acknowledging in your first paragraph that it isn’t a good idea, but suggest that it should be built because doing the right thing is too hard. We can do better. Let’s fix the problem, instead of spending billions in an effort that we know won’t solve it, simply moving the congestion down the road a little. Just like happened with the Port Mann.

      1. PM upgrade another no-brainer on THE major E-W highway. Just clone this bridge and move on, N-S !

    2. What was the actual population of West Vancouver in the 1930s?
      Current population – about 40,000
      Was the population roughly 4,000 people in the 1930s aka one-tenth of today? That would be about a thousands households at 4 people per home.
      Notable is the fact that West Van’s population is dropping.
      I look forward to some links or data to back up your claim Mr Beyer. Good information facilitates good decisions.

      1. Lionsgate was built 80 years ago. That is my point. It is one of only 2 north-shore connection from MetroVan to V Island, Whistler, N Shore, W Van and N Van ! Some history here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lions_Gate_Bridge
        It needs major upgrades or a third link, or a subway.
        The kicking-the-congestion-can-down-the-road-and-pretend-all-is-well attitude is very unhealthy !
        We need MAJOR highway and transit upgrades in BC, due to economic growth, export/import growth and immigration. Not this pretense that we can do with 80+ year old infrastructure.
        Instead, we upgrade the bikes lanes on Lionsgate. Cute. This is “vision” ?

        1. Inter-city travel is rarely congested by bridge or highway capacity and few people are resisting highway improvements throughout the province. Whistler and the Island etc. are irrelevant to this discussion.
          It is the denser metro region that is sometimes congested and more/wider highways will not solve that problem. Our Burrard Inlet crossings are large enough for the minimal north shore growth and a few vacationers. It would be good to start planning for a subway crossing but we can double or even triple the Seabus capacity for a tiny tiny tiny fraction of the cost in the medium term.

        2. Don’t deflect Mr Beyer. It’s a simple request. Where do you get the number you multiple by ten to characterize growth in West Vancouver. If you are just making it up, fine, but do say so, so those of us who value the clarity real world facts bring to a discussion can assess the value of your comment.
          You appear to want to be considered a voice worth listening to… an authority on such matters. It’s up to you to prove it, rather than hand-wave away relevant requests for your sources.

    3. Roads , bridges & tunnels all over the place will not need upgrading ( or enlarging ) with congestion driven road pricing & distance based ICBC premiums. Reduce demand instead of increasing supply

      1. Usually BOTH are required in a growing region. Some can drive at midnight or 6 am, but not everyone !
        Bike lanes to the rescue is insufficient once you leave downtown Vancouver or the area south of 16th ! it does rain and it is hilly in case you have not noticed. Bike use quite low in winter. But perhaps this Vancouver invented concept will catch on: http://www.velometro.com Perhaps invest in it ?

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