Bridge review has yet to begin

Sandor Gyarmati - Delta Optimist

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A Liberal campaign supporting a bridge includes this new ad on the Delta Town & Country Inn readerboard.
Photograph By ADRIAN MACNAIR

It will still be a few more weeks before someone is named to lead the independent review of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.

That’s the word from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which told the Optimist this week the review is expected to be completed sometime next spring.

Early last month, the ministry announced it would be suspending construction on the controversial $3.5-billion, 10-lane bridge in order for a third-party review of the project, including potential alternatives, to take place.

“The review will focus on what level of improvement is needed in the context of regional and provincial planning, growth and vision, as well as which option would be best for the corridor, be it the proposed 10-lane bridge, a smaller bridge or tunnel,” the ministry stated in a Sept. 6 announcement.

Previous analysis on the need for a new crossing and potential options will be examined as part of the review, which will also consider information from Metro Vancouver municipalities.

Work on the previous Liberal government’s mega project had just begun prior to this year’s provincial election. The bridge was scheduled for completion in 2022, however now that new NDP government has halted the project it’s unclear when a bridge, or different crossing, would be constructed, if something is built at all.

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Meanwhile, Mayor Lois Jackson once again expressed frustration at her fellow mayors over their unwillingness discuss the tunnel replacement project. Her motion at the last Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council meeting to invite representatives from all three provincial parties to attend a meeting to discuss the issue was shot down.

“The boys’ club is alive and well,” she said.

Noting the tunnel and Highway 99 corridor are in the provincial purview, she said the tunnel has never been studied by the Mayors’ Council for efficiency, safety, future capacity, congestion nor the efficient movement of goods and people.

Metro Vancouver chair Greg Moore this summer said when any transit or transportation infrastructure project is considered the goal should be to move people out of their single-occupancy vehicles.

On another front, Delta South MLA Ian Paton this week unveiled three new signs and a digital billboard at the south end of the tunnel that calls on Premier John Horgan to get on with building the bridge. Paton said over the last several weeks he’s received an outpouring of calls and emails from frustrated commuters across the Lower Mainland.

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The B.C. Liberal Party has launched a website about the project at ReplacetheTunnel.ca.