Trucks with oversized loads or hauling hazardous chemicals are banned from using the George Massey Tunnel that carries Highway 99 traffic under the Fraser River.

Trucks with oversized loads or hauling hazardous chemicals are banned from using the George Massey Tunnel that carries Highway 99 traffic under the Fraser River.

Truckers prefer new bridge instead of rebuilt Massey Tunnel

Hazardous goods, oversized loads now barred from using Fraser River crossing between Delta and Richmond

Building a new bridge, not another tunnel, looks like the best bet to replace the aging and congested George Massey Tunnel, according to Lower Mainland truckers.

B.C. Trucking Association president Louise Yako said her board leans in favour of the bridge solution because it would end two major restrictions for cargo haulers.

Trucks aren’t allowed to haul dangerous goods through the tunnel below the Fraser River, forcing those shipments to drive far out of their way over a different bridge, adding to unnecessary traffic and emissions, and increasing the risk of a hazardous cargo accident along the way.

Oversized loads are also banned from the tube.

“A bridge would address both of those deficiencies that the tunnel currently has,” Yako said.

The provincial transportation ministry recently unveiled five options for the future of the 54-year-old Massey Tunnel, although it has announced no estimate of costs or strategy to pay for it.

Yako also noted removing the tunnel could allow larger ships to head upriver to Fraser Surrey Docks.

Trucks could be loaded with cargo containers there instead of at Deltaport, making goods movement more efficient, she said.

The topic of using tolls to pay for a new crossing hasn’t yet come up in the association’s discussions with provincial government officials, she said.

“Our industry believes it should pay its fair share,” Yako said, noting truckers would benefit from reduced congestion and greater road capacity.

“The question is how should we pay? Should it be through tolls? Should it be through system-wide road pricing? That’s the next discussion we need to have as an association and the public needs to have as well.”