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.