Rendering of possible new high-level bridge replacing the Massey Tunnel on the south arm of the Fraser River.

Rendering of possible new high-level bridge replacing the Massey Tunnel on the south arm of the Fraser River.

Metro Vancouver questions new Massey bridge over Delta objections

Regional board tells province to justify tunnel replacement, mayor argues case is clear

Building a new bridge to replace the George Massey tunnel is critical to reducing congestion on the Highway 99 corridor, Delta Mayor Lois Jackson argued Friday before a skeptical Metro Vancouver board.

But she failed to derail a board motion that passed demanding the province prove how the megaproject will respect the regional growth strategy and other regional objectives, like improving air quality and access to public transit.

Jackson called the premier’s September announcement a new bridge will be built “long, long overdue” and insisted the corridor is congested because of truck traffic that can’t be put on transit lines.

She said congestion has also worsened due to increasing traffic from the U.S., South Surrey/White Rock, the Tsawwassen ferry terminal and more will come when the Tsawwassen First Nation opens a planned major destination shopping mall.

She rejected arguments a new bridge may spur more traffic and pollution.

“When you’ve got four miles of traffic sitting their puffing for hours on end I don’t think that’s a good air quality situation,” she said, referring to long lines to get through the tunnel in each direction at peak times.

Jackson argued Metro planners failed to understand the justification for the project and wanted the issue referred back to staff to consider studies prepared by Delta.

Richmond Coun. Harold Steves said a second tube for transit could easily be dropped in the Fraser River beside the existing tunnel to carry light rail transit from Richmond to Surrey and White Rock.

He predicted a rapid transit alternative along Highway 99 will be stalled for a decade or more under the province’s plan.

“If you put in a toll bridge for cars they’re not going to want public transit on it until they pay for the bridge.”

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said the region will never build its way out of congestion by adding more lanes of road.

“It sells well in the suburbs, but the problem is you can’t bring more cars into Vancouver.”

He said the strategy of trying to carry still more traffic into a plugged urban core also runs counter to the regional aim of placing new destination amenities South of the Fraser to shift the focus away from downtown Vancouver.

The Metro board motion also directs staff to investigate the business plan for the new bridge, the role of the port in the decision and the effects of other Gateway Program infrastructure, like South Fraser Perimeter Road, which will soon be fully opened.

Metro directors also called on the TransLink board to give its analysis of the ramifications of expanding the crossing, with an examination of both tolled and non-tolled scenarios.

Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal, chair of Metro’s environment and parks committee, said there’s also concern about impacts to Deas Island Regional Park, which would be in the shadow of the new bridge.

She said shoreline habitat will be threatened if the channel is dredged to open increased shipping up the Fraser towards Surrey.

Deal said it appears that would enable a proposed coal export terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks that Metro has already opposed.

Metro’s board also voted to have staff more closely study a proposal from the Port Alberni Port Authority to develop a container port there and send barges up the Fraser River.

Jackson doubted the concept would work but other directors see it as offering potential to get more trucks off the region’s roads and move freight on the river without the need for a new bridge or removal of the tunnel.

Just Posted

Satwinder Bains of Abbotsford is the recipient of the 2021 aculty Service Excellence Award from University of the Fraser Valley. (UFV photo)
Satwinder Bains receives UFV Faculty Service Excellence Award

Bains has guided South Asian Studies Institute as director since 2006

The City of Abbotsford has prepared a draft Urban Forest Strategy that is now headed to public consulation.
Draft plan adopted for managing Abbotsford’s urban forests over next 25 years

Urban Forest Strategy now heads to public-consultation process

Country music star Chris Lane stops in Abbotsford next February. (Submitted)
Country music star Chris Lane coming to Abbotsford

Multi-platinum artist bringing ‘Fill Them Boots’ to Abbotsford Centre on Feb. 19, 2022

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

The intersection of Blueridge Drive and Blue Jay Street is one of three intersections in Abbotsford approved for traffic lights this year. (Google Street View)
Traffic signals approved at 3 Abbotsford intersections

Projects part of $1.45M in road upgrades around community

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read