Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Addressing Delta’s facts about the George Massey Tunnel

Mayor Lois Jackson and the Corporation of Delta have been lobbying hard for the Massey Tunnel replacement bridge. Mayor Jackson has been lobbying the province, lobbying the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, and recently Mayor Jackson appeared as a delegation to lobby the Metro Vancouver Regional District board.

Delta council also approved a $35,000 advertising campaign promoting their case for the bridge. The problem is some of their points used to justify the bridge do not correlate with reality.

Delta believes the project should continue, regardless of the cost, based on the following:

  • Action is needed to alleviate tunnel congestion
  • Transit needs to be improved along the corridor
  • The current tunnel is seismically unsafe

In 2009, the provincial government released a report titled, “Highway 99 (King George Highway to Oak St. Bridge) Corridor Assessment.” The report noted that “although the numbers of buses on the corridor represent less than 1% of the vehicular demand, the person demand accommodated by buses on the highway ranges from 17% to 26%.”

Transit moves a large number of people along the Highway 99 corridor with minimal road space. At the time of the report, the provincial goal was to move 50% of people along the corridor during peak travel periods by transit. The total cost was around $100 million to build transit priority measures along the whole corridor.

If you travel along the Highway 99 corridor today, you’ll see the bus lanes and bus queue jumper lanes at the tunnel which were implemented as a result of the recommendations made in that 2009 report.

Vehicle volume through the George Massey Tunnel has been declining according the provincial government's own data.

Continuing on with the recommendations of the 2009 report would further reduce tunnel congestion and improve transit along the corridor. While not part of the 2009 report, in the future, a transit/HOV tunnel could be considered to ensure that people can continue to move efficiently along that corridor.

The tunnel is safe. The provincial government completed $18.7 million in seismic safety retrofits of the tunnel in 2006. In 2001, the provincial government invested $25 million in seismic upgrades to the tunnel.

There are more cost-effective solutions to ensure that people and goods continue to move along the Highway 99 corridor. The reasons that Delta is using to justify the bridge were being, and can continue to be, addressed without a $3.5+ billion bridge.

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