It’s no surprise now that the Mayors of Metro Vancouver have approved of an eight lane immersive tunnel as their choice for the Massey Tunnel replacement that other factors regarding the choice are causing grumbling. While this option for a new crossing has now gone forward to the Province,  the president of the province’s Trucking Association has stated that “the eight-lane tunnel won’t address one of the main problems with the existing tunnel: congestion.”

In an Opinion column printed in the Delta Optimist, B.C.Trucking CEO Dave Earle identifies safety, affordability and carbon emissions as impacting the trucking industry. Mr. Earle quotes a 2015 report that suggests that the previously touted ten lane bridge option proposed by the previous Liberal provincial government would reduce accidents by 35 percent.  He also suggests that that the proposed new tunnel will not accommodate oversized or hazardous good shipments, resulting in increased costs for truckers in travel time and fuel consumption in using other routes.

There are current restrictions on oversized loads and dangerous goods in the current tunnel.  Mr. Earle notes “From a goods movement perspective, the BC Trucking Association would prefer a replacement bridge because it’s safest for road users and emergency personnel, it will improve efficiency and affordability by reducing transportation-related costs, and less congestion will also mean fewer emissions. But this project also raises a persistent and troubling theme in the way important decisions on transportation infrastructure are made in the Lower Mainland: efficient goods movement is not a major consideration.”

While Mr. Earle notes that 90% of all consumer goods are being transported by trucking, the Port of Vancouver is the only major port in North America that does not run on a 24 hour schedule. By utilising trucking delivery from the port on a full 24 hour day schedule, deliveries could be timed for tunnel use outside of peak times.

While the trucking industry may see the eight lane immersive tunnel as a hindrance to free range operations, they currently are not tolled or fully taxed for their use of  bridge and tunnel infrastructure or highways. With the proposed creation of six lanes in either direction and two lanes dedicated for transit in the new Massey crossing, all users will need to prudently think how best to use the new immersive tunnel. Could this be the location where  road pricing is introduced?




  1. Your suggestion of road pricing, especially for peak time usage has been a part of Translink and Metro Council policy for a long time. This option has unfortunately been shunned by the electorate on several occasions over this same length of time. The current provincial government ran in 2017 on a promise to eliminate bridge tolls for new infrastructure and immediately implemented their promise on assuming government. One fact seems apparent across many if not most world cities. Given the choice most urban electorates do not endorse the motorist-pay principle except perhaps in jurisdictions where non-motorist traffic share is significantly greater than half despite the evidence that pricing works to allocate road space and share more efficiently. OTOH, pricing is nevertheless often accepted if it’s also imposed by public authorities. And funding of transit and alternative transport means is sometimes approved by electorates when tied to some form of special funding based on user pay principles (fuel taxing for instance). There’s indeed a good argument that BC’s and Vancouver’s governing authorities do need to consider their options once again.

    1. -deleted as per editorial policy-

      Indeed road pricing a necessary tool, in light of plummeting retail sales and empty store front due to online shopping and the ever increasing number of EVs or gasoline-hybrid fuel efficient cars that make a tax merely on gas counterproductive.

      We need road tolls ASAP, ideally before Christmas as we feel the full onslaught of idling Amazon, CanadaPost, DHL, Fedex or UPS trucks parked for free (often illegally) or using roads for free delivering parcels while killing the carefully calibrated property tax model. https://www.vancourier.com/news/smaller-retailers-lead-exodus-from-vancouver-1.23394940

      Who is leading this btw in MetroVan?

  2. The Romans figured it out about 2,000 years ago; deliveries made only at night but then we can’t be too progressive can we? There was a US DOT study a few years ago that the trucking industry paid only 60% of the cost for highway use. The average semi-my memory of the study-was that a semi-trailer truck caused road damage equivalent to 1375 cars . Thus, trucks, unlike railways, are heavily subsidized by the public. But then we live in a car dominant political society….

  3. There are so many different ways that goods movement can be addressed – tolls, road pricing, nigh-time operation, and I am sure many more. And I imagine that the trucking association is considering and addressing all of them. But wading into the tunnel-vs-bridge debate is an obvious, easy and low-hanging fruit argument.

    I think that the trucking association’s public position will have a considerable effect on the decision that the province has to make.

    I too think that a bridge is a better solution than a tunnel; just not a ten lane bridge. I cannot believe that a tunnel is so much less environmental impact than a bridge, which is the reason that the metro Van board gave for endorsing it, according to the press.

    I think that putting the province in the position to defend an eight lane bridge over a ten lane bridge, after several years of delay, would have been very hard to sell, politically, and some of the metro board members thought the same.

    The additional delay and construction complications of trying to replace an existing in-service tunnel with a new tunnel will be considerable. And unnecessary.

  4. the B C trucking association should pay for the extra lanes that they say they need— If provincial govt pays it would be a subsidy that makes rail & short haul shipping less competative—– Rail & tow boaters would be asking for their corporate welfare too

  5. I agree with the post and wish to add three main points:

    1. The Earle arguments about the existing tunnel are largely irrelevant. Decade after decade, many accidents have been induced the crash-attracting merge from Steveston Hwy into the southbound Hwy 99 traffic, along with existing lanes that are too narrow (by today’s standards) and poor lighting for decades. Either the new tunnel tubes or the rejected bridge would address those shortcomings and make Massey Crossing travel time more reliable, although a ten-lane crossing would lead to more congestion at choke points beyond the crossing.

    2. The Sandy James Planner point about the potential Massey Crossing effect of implementing a 24-hour port schedule (the same as every other major port in North America) should simultaneously enable an immense ecological gain. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s supposed need for dumping an artificial island, Terminal 2, in the Fraser Estuary would disappear. Done well, the 24-hour port schedule would eliminate the supposed need for increased container capacity at Deltaport and preclude ecological catastrophe.

    3. I think the intent for the new Massey Crossing tubes is for three general traffic lanes (along with a transit lane) in each direction, rather than for six general traffic lanes in either direction. Other than in emergency situations, counterflow lanes would have regressive effects, and it seems that the current plan needs to be clearer about not including counterflow in normal operation.

    Also, a comment about what I gather to be the Descriptive English usage of the terms “tunnel” and “tube”: A tunnel consists of all the tunnel tubes at a particular crossing, such as the Fraser River highway crossing at Deas Island—the Massey Crossing. Whether new tubes are additions (as in the current plan) or replacements (as they could also be regarded), they are part of the same tunnel, in this case the George Massey Tunnel.

  6. 24 hour port—— there is a much higher longshore labour cost for afternoon & graveyard shifts—- No need for shippers to pay it, if the B C govt is willing to pay billions for the extra lanes— only day shift , makes sense for the shippers but not for the govt

  7. As a side note, the massive new 10 acre Amazon warehouse is over on Tsawwassen First Nation Lands, so every time you order something on Amazon Prime for same day delivery, you are adding to daytime congestion along the Hwy 99 corridor.
    So next time, maybe choose a longer delivery time…

    (This plays along the never-ending theme that “convenience” is bad for the environment”, whether “I want it now” delivery or anything take-out or disposable)

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