Back to the south side of the Fraser River where the B.C. Hydro corporation, a crown agency is already estimating the logistics should the multi-billion dollar Massey Bridge project be cancelled. Because of the previous government’s single-mindedness in pushing for the creation of this behemoth of a bridge, the two transmission lines nestled in the tunnel need to be moved to overhead lines. And doing that kind of work is not cheap.
As reported in the Vancouver Sun by  Rob Shaw and Jennifer Saltman, a hydro spokesperson stated: “We’ve informed our contractors that, as a precaution, we’re preparing for the possibility of having to suspend the currently scheduled construction work and have asked for them to identify costs related to suspending their work.”  Imagine-it was going to cost Hydro $76 million dollars to move the two 230,000-volt transmission lines. That included temporary housing of the transmission line, creating stable footings, preparing foundations, and of course building access to the line on either side of the new bridge.
The new NDP Transportation Minister Claire Trevena has met with Delta and Richmond mayors and with the chair of the Metro Vancouver board. You can well imagine that conversation, where all the mayors except the mayor of Delta are against this huge ten lane bridge being built on the sensitive Fraser River delta. There are other transportation projects such as the Patullo Bridge that need to be funded. But Delta is still advocating for their bridge to support future plans of industrialization along the Fraser River and bring those tax dollars into Delta’s coffers. Delta  has not yet diversified their industrial base into more sustainable operations.
Costs to date for the bridge are $70 million for the pre construction work and the public consultation. There are three proposals to build the bridge, and those are going to be evaluated in late Fall. Each of the unsuccessful bidders are guaranteed a two million dollar consolation payment. As the Vancouver Sun notes-will the payout be to two bidders, or will the payout be to all three? There are already some hints in that Premier John Horgan has made it clear that the Massey bridge is NOT a priority for the Metro Mayors’ Council who have other transportation objectives.
In a previous Price Tags Vancouver we’ve addressed the fact you just can’t build your way out of congestion-doing so just creates more congestion. And that is evident in this statement from Transportation Minister Claire Trevena:  “We acknowledge there is a big problem of congestion throughout the (Highway) 99 corridor, but we want to find the best solution and that’s what we’ve been doing is taking our time, looking at what has gone forward, what the alternatives are and working very closely with the mayors for the future.”   I  am betting the best solution does not include a multi-billion dollar ten lane Massey bridge that reinforces the ideals of  twentieth century motordom, where the right to move freely in a single occupant vehicle car precedes environmental and  sustainability concerns for the  sensitive Fraser River delta.


  1. Claire Trevena: “We acknowledge there is a big problem of congestion throughout the (Highway) 99 corridor, but we want to find the best solution and that’s what we’ve been doing is taking our time, looking at what has gone forward, what the alternatives are and working very closely with the mayors for the future.” I am betting the best solution does not include a multi-billion dollar ten lane Massey bridge…
    hold your breath…here is what is coming:!/fileImage/httpImage/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_804/crossing-proposal.png
    and all that will be toll free., thanks to the NDP…but no worry you will have a bus lane too…and even a promise of a LRT study…

    1. Personally, I think that’s a much better plan, as it distributes the traffic over a wider area and is more likely to provide more direct routes to people’s destinations.
      However, it doesn’t solve the problem of getting bikes and pedestrians through the tunnel (as identified in the options report).

    2. Voony, this map came from Glacial Media. Can it be serious? Since 60% of northbound traffic at the Deas Slough goes to Richmond this new crossing at Boundary would cause serious volumes of traffic on Alderbridge Way, if the Massey crossing point is reduced or stays the same.
      The crossing leading to Boundary is needed, so as to direct northbound traffic heading for North Vancouver and the Sea to Sky more directly to Highway 1.
      I suppose it would not matter that this requires at least two new bridges. If one bridge goes over Tilbury Island and the river in one jump it could be longer than the proposed Massey, alone.

    3. Driving along Boundary just yesterday from Hwy 1 I did realize that a real highway connecting all as show is indeed missing & the way to go. Plus the missing red line above, the highway connecting Marine Drive with Hwy 1 (now Boundary Road).
      I disagree that it has to be free, in fact quite the opposite, it ought to be tolled per km, like in many European countries for decades, Italy, France, now Germany. That is far better than the other three models to fund it: a higher PST, higher income taxes or more debt. Perhaps cars with 3 or more people in it are free, as are EVs (for now) as are buses, but trucks especially should really pay or anything that is big like an SUV or pickup truck, especially if less than 3 people. Now an “H”OV lane is 2 people ? That is “high” ?
      People would be HAPPY to pay if it flows as opposed to be stuck in traffic. (most anyone)
      Massey 6 laner + 2 HOV lanes would suffice (perhaps the old tunnel can be retrofitted but perhaps not). Plus 6 lanes to Abbotsford. The current 4 lane is a joke.
      Plus rapid transit deeper into Richmond, to UBC, to north shore, to Langley, to E-Van.

    4. A No 8 Rd bridge with a highway through Richmond farmland and another bridge to Boundary Road has already been rejected. In fact the Gordon Campbell Liberal Government rejected a 10 lane bridge or tunnel option at Massey Tunnel because it would require another freeway across Richmond to Boundary Road. Those 10 lanes have to go somewhere.
      The NDP has two options (1) Add a two lane tunnel for cars and two lanes for rapid transit/LRT as approved by the Gordon Campbell Liberals, or (2) Add a two lane LRT tunnel as proposed by the Dave Barrett NDP and approved by the Bill Van der Zalm Social Credit.
      Gordon Campbell already spent $27 million seismically upgrading the existing tunnel and preparing to add the extra lanes.

      1. Far far more options exist. My understanding is that the tunnel has to be replaced for seismic reasons. So they could do the bridge, or a new tunnel or two. Plus Boundary road extension and bridge.
        Status quo not an option for too much longer.
        Massive new housing developments along Fraser River including Tsawwassen FN. Plus: Expect a second real airport in MetroVan too namely Boundary Bay with massive industrial and highway expansion around it.
        Many many changes to come that need roads, road expansions, bridges & tunnels plus transit ( rapid please not bus based) !

        1. Building a 10-lane bridge will not assuage the concern about stability during earthquakes. Bridge pylon foundations consist of a massive raft slab over spread piles driven deep, or likely in this case large diameter caissons. In other words, a point load. I’ve used the analogy of pencils holding up a brick on a tall stack of undercooked pancakes before. The problem is the soils are too deep and the lateral forces of millions of tonnes of jiggling, sloshing Jell-O could push the towers over into a lean. During the 1946 7-point something Comox Lake quake witnesses saw waves travelling down the YVR runways which sit on soils that easily liquefy. The soils are nearly identical in consistency at Massey, and could be even deeper.
          It may be better to build a smaller bridge with huge raft footings if the bridge option stays on the table. Otherwise, a second tunnel — this time with separated, 100% dedicated transit from the opening day — remains the best option because the load is distributed widely and the watertight joints can be flexible or have seismic dampers.
          Regarding the potential Big One, what’s better, a flooded tunnel that can be pumped out and repaired, or permanently dismantling two leaning towers and a vast bridge deck and a vacuum lasting years of any Massey crossing before an alternative can be built?
          The Massey bridge construction is well underway. There is a 2-kilometre long 4 metre high pile of preload material sitting on a wide, freshly logged swath of the Richmond bog on the west side of the 99 (where are the environmentalists on that fiasco?). There is also a caisson site being prepared south of the tunnel. There will be penalties for breaking contracts for sure, but the vast freeway idea already starts with a widely-discredited and outdated set of urban ideals before you even get into design.
          The NDP needs to shift the focus to transit over roads. No matter what their solution for Massey may be, let’s hope they see the new century for what it is: a time to recover from the damage of last century, and a place to build more sustainable options. Therefore, their answer has to include transit, and planning an LRT network south of the Fraser with accompanying land use changes to urbanize the suburbs would be of enormous benefit, in my view.

        2. The seismic reason is yet another lie which is repeated in order to convince taxpayers in BC to pay for a deeper channel for coal, LNG and airport fuel shipments. Tunnel has already been seismically upgraded and when Falcon was Minister of Transportation he stated that the tunnel was good for several more decades.

        3. A round of seismic upgrading was done on the tunnel, but more could be done.
          Strange how much focus on seismic vulnerability is put on a tunnel while schools wait for seismic upgrading. Shows the priorities of decision makers.

        4. Alex, it’s more like 9 km. Pre-loading continues from Westminster to just before the 91 turnoff north to Panorama Ridge and Cloverdale. This is for the new dedicated bus lane as well as the preliminary work for the bridge ramps.
          Arno, the aviation fuel that comes up continually in multiple trucks from the US now is not permitted through the confines of the tunnel, due to the high accident rates in the tunnel.
          It has to take the long route around and over the Alex Fraser on the 91, rejoining the 99 just before Bridgeport.

        5. The seismic upgrading of schools is a lengthy process that includes the Ministry and the School Boards. Nothing can proceed until agreements have been reached with all parties and permits obtained from the municipalities where the school is located, tenders issued and contracts signed.
          Under the Liberal government over 200 British Columbia schools have been seismically upgraded. There remains around 100 schools that are either being assessed or are in the planning, construction or contract stages.

    5. Yes Jon, it is serious for all the good reasons mentioned by Guess and Thomas and more, and one will also notice Port of Vancouver has already acquired huge swap of lands around road number 8..Then it will allow the NDP to differentiate itself form the Liberals without alienating much needed SoF voters (the fact the thing has been previously rejected doesn’t matter too much: politican can change their mind).
      The pedestrian/cyclist issue mentionned by Guess is a red herring:
      a moveable passerelle, on the example of the proposed q2q one in New West, solve the problem at ~1% of the cost of a high clerance the 10 lanes bridge, and could be much more friendly to its users.
      regarding the origin/destination: before the province decided to replace the tunnel, and then try to rationnalize it afterward, the picture provided by Translink was looking like below:
      In any case, pretty much everyone agree that the statu quo is not sustainable on the topic:
      Road pricing having been killed by the NDP/Green alliance, additional road capacity become the only possible outcome, as inferred by Steves above, and due to the “BC toll free policy of the Province, the traffic pressure will be only more severe than with the original Liberal plan.

      1. Yet in June 2017 Translink published this:
        “Coordinate with the BC Ministry of
        Transportation and Infrastructure on the
        replacement of the George Massey Tunnel, a key
        component of the regional and provincial road
        network, with a new tolled bridge that includes
        dedicated transit priority lanes.”
        Are you saying that after only two months this is all changed?
        What’s the routing direction from Marine and Boundary; to Downtown, up Main or Knight? How about Boundary? It that to stay the same and be the new route to Highway 1?
        Do you have any links?

      2. Voony, tolls on two bridges were killed to buy votes SoF. That doesn’t mean road pricing was killed. TransLink and the NDP will be working together on that as well as developing a range of options to pay for transit. This is not some kind of miracle because hundreds of jurisdictions have worked out numerous plans elsewhere. What is a miracle is that we now have a provincial government that is treating Metro mayors and local government with respect instead of arrogant disdain.
        My best hunch is that charging a flat rate per km driven by every car would be the most equitable all around, with a part of the revenue devoted to transit. How that system is designed is up for discussion.

        1. Under your best hunch there will be overhead sensors at all points leading into and around, all over the catchment area where road pricing usage will be charged.
          Overhead sensors at each end of the Lions Gate, Burrard and the Cambie Bridge. Overhead sensors all along Broadway. Overhead sensors all along Commercial, Marine Drive and Main.
          It ain’t gonna be pretty.

      3. “The pedestrian/cyclist issue mentionned by Guess is a red herring:
        a moveable passerelle, on the example of the proposed q2q one in New West, solve the problem at ~1% of the cost of a high clerance the 10 lanes bridge, and could be much more friendly to its users.”
        The Q2Q that was cancelled by New West when true costs were understood? Isn’t the current plan there for a ferry?

      4. Jon, since June 2017, this thing has happened:
        Some on this blog still want to believe that a road pricing scheme is not a toll: good luck to them to explain that to the voters.
        The highway could end up to boundary road, which I guess some people envision it to be transformed someday into an urban freeway such as below
        The vertical profile work pretty well for this solution, the horizontal one allows fairly easily a 2 x4 lanes freeway (or 2×3 way + exit ramp)…
        regarding the seimic issue:
        you can have a state of art ER, but if the ambulances and the doctors can’t access it, it is worthless…
        so there is some infrasture which need to allow safe evacuation in the case of a earth quake, and other which become a lifeline issue, and need to keep operational during an earth quake (people evacuation, providing emergency supplies…)
        The schools are in the first category but some road become a lifeline issue (basically “disaster response road”). The problem of Vancouver, is that West of Port Man bridge, there is no other Fraser crossing fitting the bill at this time…

      5. regarding the passerelle:
        When I quote the passerelle at ~1% of the cost of the high clearance bridge, I take the “true cost” of the q2q proposed passerelle (~$40million).
        The NewWest council started the idea on a budget of ~$10 million, what is in line with this €5.3 million passerelle built at La Spezia in Italy:
        (it could be interesting to know why such thing because much more expensive in New West).
        However, it already exists a crossing 1 mile downstream (conveniently connected to 22nd avenue skytrain station), so in those condition yes $40 millon, for a city of the size of New West is too much.
        in the case of the GMT: there is no alternative, and it is a provincial responsability, (but could be as well a metro/translink one) for a regional transportation issue, so even at $100 million it is still a a couple % of the $3.5B alternatibe, which I understand you prefer Jeff?
        In any case, the ferry idea is a good one: I also believe that a ferry from Steveston to Ladner (even if it is not very direct) could work in the summer considering the tourism potential of those both locations (there is already a “ferry” from Britannia to Steveston), and the fact that there is already an outsanding cycling infrastructure connecting Steveston to Richmond Down town via Railway also help.

  2. As has been pointed out before, the “you can’t build your way out of congestion” argument is a canard. You can, if your population remains constant. European cities like Prague, Salzburg etc all seem to handle traffic well in part because their population increases at a far slower rate than ours. The other shoe is that people won’t automatically incur the expense of buying and operating a car if roads are built, particularly is there is comfortable and reliable transit.
    We could very well be poised to follow the American trend to the end of the urban revival, in favour of suburbs again. Best to be prepared:
    “Despite the hype around “micro-apartments” and other innovations intended to cram more people into less room, many Americans still want space. They want to live in detached suburban homes, or in an apartment with enough square footage and access to outdoor space that it feels like one. Two-thirds of people born since 1997, including those who live in cities, want to live in single-family suburban homes, according to a 2015 survey, but the costs make this aspiration prohibitively expensive in most urban centers..”

    1. The cities you mentioned experience on a per capita basis fewer vehicle km driven, less transport energy consumed, far fewer freeway km built, lower vehicle ownership, and more transit boardings and passenger rail km built than we do. Then again, we can say the same about Canadian cities compared to the US.
      The recently discovered phenomenon is that car-dependence is no longer on the rise worldwide, and it has decoupled from GDP and wealth performance. So much for sprawl and freeways being justified on economic grounds.
      This is from pure data analysis, not from some hilariously-uninformed opinion. It’s there if you care to look.

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