The Delta Optimist  has published a  letter that really should have  been their big headline. But never mind~Price Tags Vancouver will do it. We all remember the defeated Liberal government’s bandying around of the proposed multi-billion overbuilt Massey Bridge which would have provided ten lanes on the bridge and led to the industrialization of that part of the Fraser River. The ex premier of the province, Ms. Clark actually got on the podium and when asked during the election why this unsustainable bridge to congestion on each side of it was being built, happily announced “JOBS!”.
It turns out that despite what the past Provincial Liberal government said to the public and continually announced, there was another option to the building of this billion dollar bridge behemoth. Specialists from the Netherlands prepared a presentation~on twinning the existing tunnel in 2013. The Massey Tunnel is named after Douglas Massey’s father, and it was Mr. Massey who made a Freedom Of Information request to the then Provincial Liberal government. That turned up nothing. But a more recent repeated request turned up this Dutch Engineering twin tunnel study and it is publicly available courtesy of the new Transportation Minister, Claire Trevena.
As Mr. Massey wrote in the Optimist: “ A meeting was held on April 4, 2013 between the Ministry of Transportation and Tunnel Engineering Consultants (TEC) of the Netherlands to update the ministry on the state of the art of immersed tunneling.
The content of the 60-page presentation included introduction of TEC worldwide tunnel projects both recent and proposed, and cost-effective options for the George Massey Tunnel. Special attention was given to tunnel safety, earthquake resistance design and comparison with bridge solutions.
The following are quotes taken from that presentation:
1.Tunnels are more suited for various and poor soil conditions.
2. Tunnels are shorter in length than a bridge and have a smaller footprint.
3.Tunnels can be built parallel and close to existing tunnels.
4.Tunnel construction is capable of dealing with severe seismic conditions.
5.Tunnel construction where 80 to 90 per cent of the work could be done by local contractors.
6.Tunnels can be built “safer than an open highway.”
This Dutch team also recommended that they assess the structure and integrity of the current tunnel and increase river depth by using an asphalt mattress instead of riprap. They suggested using longitudinal ventilation and repurpose the existing ventilation ducts as escape pods and for conduits for cyclists and walkers, among other innovative ideas. This report was never made public. As Mr. Massey states ” the former Liberal government never revealed the true facts or alternatives to the public. Instead, it followed the demands of the Port of Vancouver and wrote fear mongering reports that suited its agenda of removing the George Massey Tunnel and deepening the lower Fraser River to suit present and future industrial interests.”
The Dutch have been creating these types of submerged tunnels successfully for years. Looking at twinning the tunnel would preserve the existing habitat and ecosystem of the Fraser, and restrain the industrialization of this sensitive bog and marshland.  Why was this report not released before to the public? And is this a viable option for  creating more capacity crossing the Fraser River?
As Mr. Massey summarizes that this sensitive area is “known the world over as vital component for a continued healthy ecosystem that supports a migratory food source for all marine and wildfowl life from the headwaters of the Fraser River along migratory routes of the Pacific Coast. May the true facts be known.”


  1. Very interesting. There are many tunnels in the world that have operated successfully so it did seem odd that adding another here was ruled out.

  2. Interesting. A third, or 4th tunnel tube makes sense to ease congestion and is likely far cheaper than a massive bridge.
    Do we need to dredge the river deeper though for bigger boats up the Fraser towards New West and Surrey ? Was that requirement for bigger and/or more efficient boats ever discussed, stated affirmative;y or eliminated altogether ?

    1. Dredging for larger ships probably was a major consideration for a bridge, but the Liberals wouldn’t adequately own up to it. Now they can’t cry foul over more tunnels.
      Also, congestion is a matter of the number of approaches and re-entry lanes to and from the bridge/tunnel more so than the number of lanes across or under the river itself. The fact that the bridge would be 10 lanes and the tunnel twinning would be fewer wouldn’t affect traffic. Going from three lanes to five (one direction) back to three is no different than going from three to four and back to three. Both options just move the points of future bottlenecks.

        1. Yeah, if they’re going to do it (if that happens) they might as well go nuts and put in lots of options. Big pleasant walking section, full width cycling section, a section for the Skytrain to go in the future, and the general travel lanes.
          If this tunnel was not next to it but instead was upstream a bit it might dissipate traffic around it.
          Now just how to make this happen.

  3. Thanks for your great article on the suppression of a key report on the George Massey Tunnel by the former BC Liberal Government. The meeting where the report was presented was prepared by senior staff of Delcan, a company that has received millions in contracts from the BC Government.
    Also 11 attendees were from the Ministry of Transportation. However, three of them were not Ministry staff but consultants who have received contracts with the BC Government. Two of them subsequently received lucrative contracts for the planned bridge to replace the tunnel.
    At the meeting, the attendees indicated the information was an eye-opener to them revealing that options to upgrade the existing tunnel and build additions were viable.
    It is inappropriate that future bidders for bridge contracts were in attendance. Perhaps they influenced the decision to suppress the information in the report. It appears consultants who received millions in government contracts under the BC Liberals also participated in private meetings and contributed to decisions on these projects.
    So why did the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Todd Stone, and his staff, fail to disclose this information to the public, even reporting, “no information” in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request at that time? The response to the FOI request was a blatant lie from the Ministry.
    This villainous action proves the decision to build a massive bridge was not based on full information or proper disclosure. It is scandalous.

  4. The Massey Tunnel design was based on a tunnel which was built in Rotterdam in the 1940’s. It was 3 lanes in each direction and an adjacent tunnel with peds up and bikes down. To make it safer and more convenient for peds and bikes, they built a bank of escalators as well as elevators on each side. George Massey presented this design to the government of the day, cut out the frills and built the tunnel we have today. The tunnel in Rotterdam is still functioning very well, so our tunnel should be good for several decades.
    I’m not surprised that this document has surfaced. The basis for the bridge was a pack of lies.

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