george-massey-tunnel-replacement-bridge
You would think that a large metropolitan region like Metro Vancouver would have a good relationship with the Provincial government and it would be in everyone’s interest to promote good thoughtful transportation across this region. That has not been in the case in the past, where an overbuilt ten lane bridge was being planned on the unique and sensitive Fraser River delta which also holds the most arable soils in Canada. Quite simply, the building of this bridge would solve “congestion” experienced going through the current George Massey Tunnel, but would move that “congestion” along to other parts of the same system, especially towards Richmond and Vancouver. What this bridge would do is reinforce the 20th century notion of the region’s future growth as being dependent on truck traffic from the Port Metro Vancouver’s Deltaport, and would increase the  industrialization of the banks of  the Fraser River. Unlike every other port in North America, Port Metro Vancouver does not operate 24 hours a day, and truck traffic is not restricted through the tunnel at peak times. And when a large truck stalls in the tunnel during rush hours, there’s a huge delay, especially if specialized tow equipment needs to be brought in.
CBC reports that   the Provincial government is putting the Massey Bridge on hold, and  “launching an independent technical review to explore best options going forward.” The current procurement process for building the bridge has also been cancelled. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena states “”We want to look at the different options. There was a sense that not all options were thoroughly examined.” 
And here is the best part-in terms of Massey Crossing options,  “We want one that will get the approval of not just the engineers, but people who live and work in the region.”
This major rethink on the tunnel replacement  was not in the NDP’s  campaign prior to the provincial election, but does recognize the importance of working with the region, not just industrial and commercial interests on regional transportation infrastructure.  Working together and ensuring all interests are represented enables everyone to move towards good connected regional transportation.
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Comments

    1. Building it isn’t going to end congestion.
      Building it will just create more congestion.
      The only thing that will fix congestion is to stop giving away subsidized road infrastructure and the land it requires.
      Today’s announcement is not the solution to regional issues, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    2. How about a solution that doesn’t simply build more lanes and kick the congestion can further down the road? The bridge wasn’t a solution.
      It isn’t a Metro bridge, so I don’t believe that the 2040 plan states a preference. But there is a livable region focus that pushes multiple town centres, and less focus on commuting by automobile. Rapid transit would be a good start.

      1. The problem is the livable region strategy makes transit options more difficult and more expensive as it is very likely where you want to live doesn’t offer the a job in your field etc. So you end up with a multitude of possible home-office pairings that transit authorities are strapped to serve with any kind of frequency or efficiency.
        Add to that the fact that governments at all level have allowed home prices to run run away near our biggest employment centres, and many people have no choice to commute. How many YVR or UBC workers can actually afford to live near their jobs now?

        1. Pairing decent transit with appropriate land use decisions has always been a powerful tool to create better cities with a wide range of housing choice and prices, and to make jobs easier to access. Moreover, the modern economy has everything to do with human ingenuity within cities.

    1. Common sense is not so common.
      Yet here it means a retrofitted )more earthquake-proof, better lighting) existing tunnel and a new parallel tunnel with one lane in each direction plus bike lane plus HOV lane. So 8.5 lanes total.
      As they have to shut down old tunnel for a while to retrofit the bottleneck will continue for years.
      They might even toll it to have users pay for it.
      That would be common sense to me.

  1. We need to think beyond just space (i.e. widening) as the only solution (although it is a viable one at times). We need to think of solutions outside the “bridge box” and consider more cost-effective solutions to deal with the demands here. These include time and alternate modes. It is rarely a simple one “silver-bullet” solution like a widened crossing, but a series of supply, demand, and timing solutions. All infrastructure will eventually need retrofitting or replacement. However, the demand can be adjusted such that the total human demand and use may go up but congested periods reduced. We have data that shows this to be the case into downtown Vancouver. We can do it again with the GMT.
    Extending the usefulness of current investments is a major money saver. If we can save 5, 10, or 20 years to implement large-cost solutions through smaller and more cost-effective “micro solutions” that may be best for society overall. Delaying will delay interest costs on borrowed funds, but sure once you build inflation may bump up the costs. However, we could possibly delay long enough for technology to take over and render wide bridges a relic of the past.
    As we’ve seen on the Port Mann, you know you over-built and piecemeal tolling policies do not work when the least congested part of the highway is at the bridge.

    1. (1) More LOCAL job creating I C I zoning would allow people to get to work without going over or under the river (2) Traffic management giving H O V priority tunnel access would lead to more car pools & less traffic (3) Extending the Canada line to to a park & ride on south side of the river would be about 20% of the cost of the proposed bridge

        1. Do HOV have to line up before merging with the SOV lane ? If they do it is not the priority access that a traffic cop could give

        2. If there was a 5th and 6th lane then HOV would actually flow faster. But the tunnel is far too small. It is 60+ years old.

        3. I have taken the HOV lane a number of times during rush hour (heading to and from the ferry), and found it fast and efficient. It was a bit of a wait when the counterflow was against me, but the Knight St. bridge is often just as bad. Northbound, the HOV lane is separated and it’s possible to miss it. I’ve done that a couple of times. Big mistake. The wait can be very long. If anything, the HOV lane reveals that the real problem is single-occupancy vehicles.
          I should give credit to the folks in those single-occupancy vehicles. I always imagine they might not be in the best mood, waiting so long as they do while HOV cars cut in ahead. I have found them to be unfailingly polite about letting me in.

    2. It’s 60+ year old infrastructure when population was 1/3.
      How about two tolls: $5 for everyone and $10 if you’d like to use the fast lane. Why not price highways like trains or planes ? First class pay gets you better service ie faster throughout in this case ?
      Raise toll price so that one lane always flows.
      Which politician dares to propose that ?
      Failing that, only more throughout capability, ie more lanes will do.
      New Canada line extension a good idea but is the volume there? Two more dedicated lanes plus two HOV lanes plus bike lanes via a new parallel tunnel makes sense to me.
      What makes sense to MetroVan besides annoying car users further ?

      1. You really have a lot of difficulty understanding that public space is not a commodity to be priced and allocated according to wallet size eh? No better way to stratify a society and create additional problems. Politicians don’t promote that kind of idea because it’s antithetical to the values and principles upon which our democracies are largely founded.

        1. Socialism has limits.
          Four arguments, Chris why public infrastructure is generally not free and is already accessible only to some with $s.
          A) Please be reminded that the top 10% of society pay well over 50% of all taxes. Perhaps one ought to extend them the courtesy of some benefits ?
          B) Even private planes are allowed to land on public airports, for an extra fee.
          C) Even a swimming pool charges an entry fee, and if you pay more you get a bigger locker or may use the sauna. Why is a special lane, for more money, any different ?
          D) A toll on a public road or bridge is quite common. So why is a tiered toll any different ? No one is forced to use the special, more expensive lane.

        2. Chris, of course public space is a commodity to be priced and allocated according to wallet size. What do you think the housing market is? All of it started off as Crown Land (albeit unceded territory blah blah blah)

        3. Let’s re-frame it: say we add a second new shiny earthquake proof tunnel. Call it tunnel B. Tolled $5 and $10 at rush hour. The older, possible death trap during an earthquake with poor lighting (current tunnel, tunnel A) is $2.50 and $5 at rush hour.
          Why not give folks the choice to
          a) not use it at all
          b) use a bus (and Translink pays this toll)
          c) use tunnel A off rush hour @ $2.50 … possibly slow to moderate wait
          d) use tunnel B off rush hour @ $5.00 with likely no wait
          e) use tunnel A in rush hour @ 5.00 … possibly very long wait
          f) use tunnel B in rush hour @ $10.00 with likely no or very low wait
          Why is this not a feasible option ?

  2. Public space is not a socialist concept. Having said that, if you think that it’s OK to hand out privilege according to wealth, then you can’t complain about the corollary — that obligations are greater to those with more. Esp. when that wealth may well be inherited or otherwise unearned, or even gained via illegal or unscrupulous means.

  3. “Even a swimming pool charges an entry fee, and if you pay more you get a bigger locker or may use the sauna.”
    I don’t know where you swim, but point me to a public pool in the region where the sauna costs extra or a bigger locker costs more. I’ve never seen either situation.

  4. “So why is a tiered toll any different ? No one is forced to use the special, more expensive lane.”
    Again, it’s public space. You barrack for a situation that would quickly escalate into removal of basic accessibility to accommodate ‘haves’. Go for it. Rarely ends well.

  5. Whether you price it or not you are paying for it in other ways. Exposing them and dealing with them leads to improvements in fairness. However pricing is a dangerous thing in that mis-pricing could have worse consequences.
    In the end, it may be a bridge is the best option, but this is not the first time a mega-project was decided based on a very limited set of options. Less options means getting something built quickly and politically it may be simply the desire for cutting ribbons while still in office.
    Either way, we need to stop this approach and give the significance of the investment due diligence. If that means more studies then so be it. We need to take the prudent avenue rather than short-cut down dark and slippery alleys.
    Placing “boxes” or boundaries around a problem is usually for convenience, sanity, or a conspiracy to bias for one’s intended solution. However, they can restrict the entry of paradigm-shifting design-agnostic solutions. We need to ensure there is no corruption in our decisions. One way is to consider more options. So let’s hear more innovative ideas from everyone.

    1. Why take a few weeks if one can take years and employ many civil servants & consultants in the process ? Leadership means listening to most sensible options, then decide. Who leads whom here ? This tunnel should have been widened a decade ago.

  6. Let’s just build bridges that cost way too much, that don’t do very little to fix today’s issues and definitely don’t worry about future congestion and innovation, and knock down perfectly good infrastructure while we’re at it, on the tax payer dime.
    How about build a bridge, a rail system, and leave the tunnel. North bound and south bound flows. Rail (skytrain, etc) because we all know in 50 years all those farms will get plowed over for skyscrapers anyways.
    It’ll cost more now, but sell THAT to the tax payer, rather than covering your butt for the next election by trying to do the bare minimum at maximum cost.
    There was an article recently in Alberta where the city refused to put in a set of stairs to a public garden area, and the average user was elderly. They said it’d cost $50,000 to do it. A guy came in, bought less than $400 in lumber and parts and spent 4 hours and built a set of stairs.
    The city eventually came in and tore it down, said it wasn’t safe and to code, and offered to put one in at $10,000.
    Or as others have suggested, working on affordable housing closer to work/commercial so that people can take smaller commutes (bikes, rapid transit). It’s impossible to re-design the whole city’s transportation structure, but the solutions they employ to fix existing issues or so basic. A pedestrian j-walks 200 meters from a cross-walk, the city puts in another timed (not camera, not button press, but timed) traffic light. I used to take the route by metro town to get to my grandfather’s in Brentwood from Richmond, took me 40 minutes. That was 25 years ago. Now there’s a traffic light every 100 meters there. More skyscrapers, more traffic lights, more congestion, long commutes, people that don’t care and cross in front of you. I refuse to drive downtown. Red light, green light, walk, don’t walk, you have people crossing red lights texting, and if you honk at them or ask them to move, they flip you off and kick your car.
    20 years ago I used to commute to SFU/TechBC Surrey from Richmond. By car, took 45 minutes. By bus and skytrain or bus, it took over two hours. People don’t want to get out of their cars and into transit unless it saves them time, or comparable, and saves them the cost of parking, etc.

  7. I think one of the main points is being missed in this discussion: the provincial government is finally working with local government on a plethora of mobility issues and solutions. One crossing does not a city make.
    Another point is that the Lower Mainland only one lifetime away will not resemble the Metro we know today. The province mandated raising the dykes on the Fraser not even a decade back. Now it’s calculations indicate sea level rise and risk of flooding during freshet has been underestimated, and the new dikes will have to be raised another metre soon enough. Beyond 2050 (only 33 years from now) the limits to the weight-bearing capacity of the alluvial soft soils of Richmond, Delta and the Fraser Valley may also limit the height of the dykes. There is sound long-term planning behind the floating communities of Holland.
    An estimated sea level now two metres higher tomorrow on top of king tides in the June freshet puts into question the wisdom of fostering more growth in low-lying areas today, including spending billions on bridges and tunnels and both residential and industrial subdivisions. It will also start a debate on the permanent inundation of arable soils in the same area, and how best to save them for local food production.
    In some respects the government under the BC Liberals was a merry-go-round on this file. They fostered a significant increase in emissions and car-dependence with their old and true love of tarmac through the MoTI, while the MoE concurrently did the math on climate change and sea level rise, and are quietly working with affected cities to raise the dykes. Is this a self-employment scheme for bureaucrats?

    1. The sea level rise is a much debated subject and likely not nearly as high as many fear mongerers predict. Maybe 20 cm for Vancouver area by 2100. Certainly not 2m. Where did you read this fantasy?
      Unlike the eastern seaboard or Caribbean we do not get hurricanes and sit behind Vancouver Island that protects from Tsunamis or violent storms.
      -deleted as per editorial policy-

    2. The IPCC originally estimated sea level rise at ~50 cm average by 2100. That estimate was notoriously conservative in the eyes of scientists who did the math. Since that estimate was published, the base numbers (both observations and models) have only increased.
      Even with the local land rebounding from the last ice age, the ability of the alluvial soils to bear the weight of dykes is in question from a long-term planning perspective. The dykes will slowly sink, and adding more weight to increase their height will be counterproductive. It appears you missed that point. This is especially pertinent because the highest point in Richmond today is already a metre below mean sea level during the average high tide. Dykes and diesel pumps are crucial to Richmond’s survival today. They will not offer the same level of security 83 year from now.

      1. Much of Holland has been around 200+ years below sea level .. go figure ..
        Fear mongering and “more government” is a common strategy by certain groups benefiting from higher tax revenues, grants and fat government .. many biased opinions by many groups .. incl IPCC

        1. Proposing that certain other groups should shoulder a greater share of the tax burden than they do is a common strategy of some as well.

        2. “Much of Holland has been below sea level…”
          True enough. And, as mentioned, the cool, calm and highly rational Dutch have already built floating communities protected from the storm surges, have re-naturalized many of their previously developed wetlands (which sponge up storm water and greatly regulate flows), and now let vast areas get inundated on a controlled basis to relieve flood pressure. Also, Holland is many times larger than the flat, alluvial parts of the Fraser Valley; they can afford experimentation in limited areas.
          Here on the South Coast it would be a better planning policy and a more affordable initiative for society to learn to live on slopes. Some crazy ideas have been floated, so to speak, for New Orleans after Katrina, including building huge concrete rafts on which to rebuild the city, one section at a time. Because the soil in the ALR is so rare in this province, one day in the far future there may be a call to mine some of it and transport it to higher elevations, or place it on air-blown concrete (“shotcrete”) rafts or something similar for food production. That may still be cheaper than building high-rise greenhouses and allowing the existing irreplaceable farmland soil resource to drown. However, we are still a half a century from taking these far out ideas seriously.
          Maybe there should be a think tank established just to explore how South Coast communities will be expected to survive beyond 2100. Of course, the participants can be expected to be labelled “fear mongers.”

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