Richmond council weighs in on tunnel replacement

In replacing the George Massey Tunnel, Richmond council would prefer a tunnel to a bridge, an increase in transit services, reduction in truck traffic and improvements to the congestion in Steveston.

This is the message the Ministry of Transportation has heard from the City of Richmond as it undergoes an 18-month reboot of the replacement project for the perpetually congested tunnel from Steveston to Ladner.

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The ministry has asked the city to give further feedback by April 1 and council referred this back to staff to reflect their any additional comments to the ministry.

The ministry is currently talking with municipalities, First Nations and other regional stakeholders and by November it expects to have a shortlist of options for the George Massey Crossing. After an option is chosen, it will take another year to prepare the business case, explained ministry staff to council on Monday.

Much of the discussion and comments to the ministry staff centred around congestion on the Richmond side including the Steveston overpass.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie said a “significant” part of the congestion is trucks going to the port and he wanted the port to be part of the consultation process, but also for the province to mandate that they couldn’t drive through the tunnel during peak times.

“That would go a long way to relieve congestion,” Brodie said.

Coun. Carol Day asked whether a federal environmental assessment will be done on the project, and ministry staff responded that it will depend on what solution is created for the crossing.

Coun. Harold Steves pointed out that although $22 million in seismic upgrades were done to the tunnel more than 10 years ago and curb cuts were installed for rapid transit, the rapid buses never materialized. Going even further back, he said when Bill Vander Zalm was premier, LRT was promised all the way to Delta, but that also never happened.

Coun. Alexa Loo said while she personally supports building a bridge, she supports building “for the future.” Her largest concern is the bottleneck at the Steveston overpass which impedes port access for both trucks and people who work there.

“Eventually you may have limit truck traffic, but in the short term you have to build for the future, we’re having another million people coming to the region,” she said.

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