Price Tag readers will know we’ve been writing and following up on the Massey Crossing saga, where the previous Liberal Provincial government decided a ten lane bridge would replace the Massey Tunnel. Trouble was this multi-billion dollar bridge became a boondoggle, unsupported by every mayor on Metro Vancouver’s Mayors’ Council. It was only the Mayor of Delta that thought the bridge was a brilliant idea, obviously putting the municipality’s proximity to industry and  Deltaport as factors over other smarter, more sustainable, and simply more thought out approaches.

The current provincial government thankfully took another look at the proposed crossing in a prepared report, and indicated that any option chosen would have to be agreed upon by the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council.

As Global News Sean Boynton reports five options for a crossing of the Fraser River near the Massey Tunnel were examined at a Metro Vancouver mayors task force and surprise! Not ONE of the options included the ten lane bridge being championed by the previous provincial Liberal government. Instead the consensus of the task force was to “replace the existing George Massey Tunnel with an eight-lane immersed-tube tunnel — two of which will be dedicated to transit.”

You can imagine how fun that hours long meeting was before consensus on an immersed tube tunnel construction was decided upon as the preferred option. This is built using prefabricated tunnel pieces that are put in place within the river bed. This option is estimated to be one-third the cost of a deep bore tunnel and will require one kilometre of tunnel and  moving 1.5 million cubic metres of soil that is salt sodden.

While cost estimates were not discussed, it is suggested that the cost of this option is similar to building a bridge. Environmental impacts would result from excavating both river banks, as well as mitigating  damage to existing fish habitats.

Next steps include having the recommendation of an eight lane tunnel reviwed by the finance committee of Metro Vancouver and board, followed up with a public process about the project and its impacts.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena  responded to the Mayors Council task force tunnel option by saying “It’s giving us a lot of direction. The previous government just went ahead with a very large bridge that was not what the Metro region wanted. So we wanted to consult with Metro [Vancouver].”

Thinking about the tunnel option, Richmond Councillor Harold Steeves observed that the two lanes that will be designated for public transit could in the future become a rail link. The previous ten lane bridge concept was too steep and had approaches in the wrong location to accommodate rail transit. Of course the other challenge that is already being discussed by transportation planner Eric Doherty  on twitter is that “Urban highway expansion is climate crime. Highway 99 expansion would not be on table if BC’s #cleanbc climate plan wasn’t a hollow shell.” 

 Eric cites in  this article that transportation emission are rising and that the provincial government needs to reduce GHG pollution from transportation 30% below 2007 levels by 2030. Building a wider tunnel to accommodate more single occupant  vehicle traffic is not mindful of that clean air commitment.

But back to that immersive tunnel~To learn a bit more about how these things are built, take a look at this YouTube video using time lapse photography and images to show the technology used to create several immersive tunnels around the globe.



  1. The NDP has replaced one expensive, bad idea with another. How is this better than a bridge? It’s not cheaper. It doesn’t disincentivize single occupant vehicle use. It’s all highway widening to a suburb on a delta. Like toll removal, it’s Bad Policy, Good Politics, to paraphrase Mr. Price.

  2. PRIORITIES—— the 3 & half billion $ plus should be used to build a 25 k skytrain instead—- using 2 transit lanes to justify it is absurd —- buses already have priority only a 30 second delay—- the skytrain bridge to surrey cost 28 million in 1987—-the ministers CBC interview loudly proclaimed twice —-that drivers won t have to pay EVERY time they use it — but did not explain why transit riders will continue to pay EVERY time

    1. Yes, it is bogus. If the province was serious, they’d just build bypass infrastructure for transit (skytrain or bus) and no extra car lanes or tunnels. Some carrot and stick. Crawl through in your little car or glide through on transit. Perhaps if they had a majority. Oh, well.

    2. If people use transit, cars go into the space emptied by cars.

      The induced demand equation is a fallacy. You are always going to be building to keep up with demand.

      Also, South Delta is so spread out that transit isn’t really an option. Not to mention the GMB also hosts traffic to the border and ferries, which can’t be built out as transit (outside of buses, which we already have) without building an entire HSR line or commuter rail network spanning Translink and BC Transit land.

      All of which, BTW, would require a new bridge anyways. The transit option physically cannot be cheaper in this case, no.

  3. A tunnel won’t cast a shadow.
    Shadows are the bane of all NIMBYs – whether from tall buildings, elevated SkyTrain tracks or tall bridges.
    Note that shadows caused by trees are not shadows – that’s called “shade”.

  4. Two new sunk tunnels vs eight? Sounds cheaper to me. Plus, your reference of the Induced Demand principle is incorrect. You say it’s a fallacy, then note that it is precisely what will happen with capacity freed up from higher transit share. Which is it?

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