From Business in Vancouver:

The environmental review process for the $3.5 billion George Massey tunnel replacement project is now officially underway.  The BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has scheduled public open houses , starting in mid-August as part of a 60-day public comment period. The first open house takes place in Delta August 17, followed by one in Richmond September 13 and another open house in Delta September 14. …
The majority of Richmond city council is opposed to the project and wants to keep the tunnel. Most mayors with Metro Vancouver are also opposed to the project.
Delta Mayor Louise Jackson is among the only mayors on Metro Vancouver who supports the tunnel’s replacement. …
Vancouver’s business community is generally in favour of the project. The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade says the Highway 99 south corridor is “one of the most important highway corridors in British Columbia.” Highway 99 south connects the Lower Mainland to the U.S. border, BC Ferries’ Tsawwassen terminal and the Deltaport container terminal. …
According to the B.C. government, the new 10-lane bridge would shave 30 minutes off the commute of those who currently use the tunnel every day to get in and out of Vancouver.


Is there really any doubt that this review will approve the bridge with perhaps some cautionary notes?
More valuable would be a review of the bridge’s rationale, since it came basically from nowhere – certainly not in any plan, regional or provincial.
And then: what will be the impacts on regional transportation as a whole (not just the Highway 99 corridor) and the likely land-use impacts.  (Bridges have region-shaping consequences: The Oak Street Bridge construction in 1957 led, two years later, to the rezoning of Richmond as a bedroom suburb of Vancouver.  The first Port Mann Bridge in 1964 had even greater impacts on Surrey.)
Ultimately, the most important question is this: what is the Province’s vision for Metro Vancouver? Is the Fraser Delta to be industrialized?  What energy projects will be facilitated?  How is it expected that the Port will expand?
Is the transportation network for the region still to be car- and truck-dominated, with the minimum transit system the region can fund through referendum?
What are the next projects anticipated by the Ministry?  Once Oak Street is further congested, will it be widened or replaced?  Will there be another bridge at Boundary Road?  Will tunnels be designed to handle the congestion on the arterials in Vancouver.  (And if you think cross-city tunnels are unrealistic, check out Brisbane.)
Though the Massey will be one of the most gigantic bridges to be constructed in North America, is it only one piece of a more extensive road network for the region to handle the next million – one that will keep us car-dependent and cost many times more than the transit system that is one of the foundations of the regional plan?
The critical questions that must be addressed in any review of the Massey replacement are the ones that won’t even be asked.


  1. WRT transit – here’s a link with some screenshots from the ALC application which show a bit more detail of the pedestrian and bike ramps at the Steveston Hwy HOV bus station, River Road connection and Hwy 17A HOV bus station.
    Note that the bridge is shown having multi-use pathways on both sides.
    The EA Application also confirms that the HOV lane bus stations at Steveston Hwy and Hwy 17A will have elevators and stairs from the overpasses above.

    1. A giant piece of concrete like this will separate communities, dissuade any non-car transportation, subsidize car travel, and encourage land use patterns that won’t cover their servicing costs. Adding an elevator doesn’t even begin to repair the damage being done.

  2. Thanks for providing more details on this massive project. The current Deas tunnel can be dangerous to drive through and is a massive obstacle for cyclists unless the take the time to book/notify the flatbed driver who can drive them through the tunnel. But Public Transit MUST be part of this development – where will the bullet train go on this bridge? dedicated bike lanes are also needed as well as room for commuter buses. Much much more planning and visioning and COLLABORATION with regional transportation officials are needed before a Final plan for a ‘bridge” with higher carrying capacity gets approved by BOTH local, regional and provincial authorities. I look forward to ongoing debate and discussion on all this!

  3. What is really missing is a business case. The auditor general should do an audit into the business case before this monster gets going.

    1. As part of its Performance Audit Coverage Plan 2015/16 – 2017/18, B.C.’s auditor general — Carol Bellringer — announced last July that her office would conduct an audit “to evaluate the quality of evidence to support the decision to replace the George Massey Tunnel.” So why not wait a few months? Let Bellringer’s team evaluate the evidence and report back on whether it justifies spending $3.5 billion. It’s a rare opportunity to do the audit before, not after hundreds of millions of dollars in potential cost overruns for a bridge that might be used less than what it replaced, like the new Port Mann bridge does now.
      And later in the article is this little tidbit:
      Following Premier Christy Clark’s 2012 announcement that the Massey Tunnel would be replaced, Jeff Scott — president and CEO of Fraser Surrey Docks — had this to say:
      “This announcement displays the government’s ongoing commitment to creating a strong environment for economic growth.”
      Fraser Surrey Docks is part of the Australian-based Macquarie Group.
      Funnily enough another part of the group — Macquarie Capital Infrastructure — was looking for a vice president last July. The posting included this line: “Participating in a team as developer and financial adviser for the $2.5-billion Massey Tunnel Replacement Project in Vancouver.”

      1. We can only hope that the AG addresses climate change and its relation to how we have built our cities.

        1. Climate change, or man made climate change ? Less idling on a wider bridge should reduce congestion and cool the climate ?
          Not everyone buys into the belief that we should live poorer lives today for a possible climate change or cooler temperatures by 0.2 degrees .. maybe .. maybe not .. 100 years from now ..
          Of course Richmond is opposed as it opens up more business opportunities, housing or industrial growth south of the Fraser River.
          Time to amalgamate all 20+ municipalities and build one one city not 20 fiefdoms.
          Meanwhile in Vancouver: a controversial Grandview-Woodland densification plan ( see here ) is approved with ZERO subway or rapid transit consideration, just more (diesel spewing) buses and a few more bike lanes. That is sound planning ?
          Not everyone loves tiny condos and less or no backyards. Some actually want them. And a car or 2 to drive around. Imagine that.

      2. It’s fun quoting experts. We need the best and the most experienced minds working for us. The quotes are from Dermod Travis.
        “Mr. Travis served as the Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee from 2007 to 2011. He is a former member of Quebec’s Estates General on the Situation and the Future of the French Language and its Comité d’examen sur la langue d’enseignement. He has given guest lectures at the Université de Montréal, Columbia University, Concordia University, Carleton University and McGill University. ”
        I suppose he’s also a leading authority on traffic flows and 60 year old tunnel renovations. What can he tell us about filibustering successes after the train has left the station? Was he in Tibet studying when the initial announcement for the bridge was made? Did he Tweet anything at that time that is pertinent?

        1. It was 2009. There was a massive recession and money wasn’t swashing around.
          Many people were pleased since they don’t like P3s. They say P3s are more expensive for taxpayers because there has to be a profit for the private partner and governments can borrow money cheaper. They could be right. The Port Mann project was a very good one for BC taxpayers.
          However, the Canada Line is a P3 and even transit supporters and hard-core urbanists love it. It makes money too and is way busier than any projections.This was another good decisive move by the Liberals in pushing it through, over the objections of the Mayors’ Council. No wonder that plebiscite the Mayors cobbled together failed.
          Important transit and transportation decisions have to made by the provincial Liberals.

        2. I recall cabinet minister KEVIN FALCON on CBC bragging about all $millions that would saved by a P3 Port Mann bridge. A few months later he was back on CBC with his spin on all the $ millions that would be saved by a design & build.

        3. I am not a big fan of P3, but at least the private partner does bear the financial risk. Now we all bear the financial risk and I believe that the red ink is just starting to flow.

        4. P3’s generally cost more.
          The government can borrow very very inexpensively. It is not bad to borrow $3B and build a toll bridge or a subway.
          That is why pension funds buy toll highways, bridges or tunnels as they have a decent 4-6%+ perpetual yield !
          Borrowing at 2% to make 4 or 5% makes total sense to me. It is at the core of my business, so why not the governments ?

  4. The POLITICAL purpose of a P3 is to call the project a long term lease instead of a long term debt. Either way the public pays( more when its aP3) This creates the illusion of fiscal prudence. The extra interest cost being included in the lease

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *