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In that story that just won’t go away, the Delta Optimist has printed on January 20th a letter from the Minister of Transportation Todd Stone regarding the replacement of the Massey Tunnel by the ten lane, 3.5 billion dollar bridge. It is quite strange to see a Minister of the Provincial Legislature battle it out in a small community newspaper-but for what it’s worth, Minister Stone reassures readers that there’s 8,000 pages of documents on the project website, and that they have done  “due process”. All of this while we hear about driverless technology and the marked changes of cities in the next few decades that will no longer have to provide parking space and barns for vehicles, and  will be able to reduce street capacity. You’d think these technological advances would also inform bridge/tunnel planning at the billion dollar level-but no.
Doug Massey has written a compelling response to this letter from Minister Stone, which you can read in the next post. Mr. Massey also outlines how facts may be manipulated in favour of the Province, as any proposed “dredging” could  in fact be done not by the Province but by the Port, leaving the Province “blameless” in an election year. But first, some excerpts from  Minister Todd Stone’s letter:

” We asked the public about the need, and were told the need was great. We surveyed British Columbians about the options and were told a bridge was preferred. Three rounds of indepth public consultation; hundreds of meetings with stakeholders, including the City of Richmond, Corporation of Delta, Metro Vancouver and others.”  Minister Stone notes that there is no net loss of farmland as a result-MLA Vicki Huntingdon states that there may be no net loss of farmland, but that replacement agricultural land is certainly not located in Delta or Richmond. A question Price Tags would like to ask-where will this new farmland be located from the losses incurred from the Massey Bridge and overpass construction?

And here is where the letter from the Minister gets a little funny. The rationale for this bridge changes faster than the clouds on a West Coast rainy day. The Minister insists that the bridge is not being designed for navigable ships below it, nor will the river be dredged by the Province. He doesn’t say why other bridge or tunnel options are not being considered. He brings out the “bottleneck” of the tunnel as  “the worst in Canada” as a rationale for replacement, and once more brings up vehicular idling. No discussion about timing truck travel through the tunnel, or scheduling large vehicle access.  He assures us of the fact that Highway 99 is needed for  the movement of goods for Canada’s “Asia-Pacific Gateway”.  Improved transit and managing congestion, which might have solved this whole problem in the first place is not mentioned until the final paragraph.

“Transit reliability will be improved, with over $500 million in transit infrastructure included in the project. And the environment will benefit, with less idling, and improvements to Deas Slough and Deas Island. We are moving forward on the project to replace the George Massey Tunnel, and are doing so in confidence that all due diligence has been taken.”

Please see Doug Massey’s response in post #2.