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?