Work continues at the Massey Tunnel where millions of dollars of preload and preconstruction work is progressing for the Massey Bridge, built on the banks of the sensitive Fraser River on the most arable farmland in Canada. The bridge price is projected to balloon from 3.5 billion dollars to over 12 billion dollars with carrying financial costs as noted in documents leaked just before the Provincial election. Lately Price Tags has reported that the rookie MLA from Delta is now saying that a tunnel can’t be twinned because of the impacts of disturbing the river bed. This seems to be an odd comment when the Port of Vancouver is annually dredging tonnes of sand and silt from the riverbed to allow for the navigation of ships upriver.
It is interesting to take a look back to an article written in the North Delta Reporter by Jeff Nagel exactly one year ago. At that time Metro Vancouver said it could not support a ten lane bridge at this location and released “ an assessment critical of the project, arguing the proposed bridge will have a dramatic impact on regional growth, steer more people into cars instead of public transit, and ultimately increase not decrease congestion.”
Not only that, but the utilities committee chair of Metro Vancouver Darrell Mussatto stated that the regional government “will be forced to spend $20 million to $340 million replacing or modifying water and other utility lines under the river because of the project, and the bill for Metro could rise to as much as $1 billion if the port authority seeks to dredge the Fraser River for increased shipping and underwater utilities must be dug deeper.”
You just can’t build your way out of congestion and the ecological disturbance to the Fraser estuary, the air quality impacts of ten lanes of idling cars, and the impact on Deas Island Regional Park were cited. A year ago Metro Vancouver noted that the new Port Mann Bridge DOES speed vehicles further on Highway 1, but stacks vehicles into congestion at the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge to the North Shore. Such a “pinch point” could also happen at the Oak Street Bridge and the Knight Street Bridge from a new Massey Bridge.
Meanwhile the Province has claimed that the existing tunnel is nearing the end of its life, despite the fact that similar tunnel designs are used in Europe, are the same vintage, and still have decades of use ahead. And the Mayor of Delta insisted that water lines had nothing to do with the project, and reassured us that ten lanes were needed as well as the proposed High Occupancy Vehicle/Bus Lane. Currently buses make up just one per cent of trips through the tunnel, but carry 24 per cent of the people going through it.
This was the discussion a year ago-how can a year go by without Provincial support for a solid regional transportation plan with enhanced transit service to encourage regional accessibility? How did we ever get to this place thinking that in the 21st century the car was still king? How do we convince the Province of the importance of working with the region on a comprehensive complete relook at how to move people efficiently and sustainably?
Hard to believe a year has passed.