Lina Halwani (left), the interim George Massey crossing project director at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, briefed Delta city council and staff on the province’s plan to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel on Monday, March 11, 2019. (Saša Lakić photo)

Lina Halwani (left), the interim George Massey crossing project director at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, briefed Delta city council and staff on the province’s plan to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel on Monday, March 11, 2019. (Saša Lakić photo)

‘It’s falling apart’: Delta council stresses need for new Massey crossing

Mayor says if the project touches the river, federal environmental assessments would push completion to 2030

Delta city council has informed the province that a replacement project for the George Massey tunnel has to come sooner rather than later.

Councillors got an update on the province’s plan for a new crossing between Delta and Richmond during a Monday (March 11) consultation session with Lina Halwani, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s interim George Massey crossing project director. Council weighed in on the project, and gave Halwani their recommendations to take back to the ministry.

Halwani told council and city staffers that the province is “keenly aware” of the urgency and importance of having a decision on the new crossing soon. She said the ministry wants to settle on shared goals and objectives among local and regional governments, Indigenous groups and the public sometime this April, with a decision on what kind of crossing would best suit the region to come by November. A business case will follow in fall 2020.

“Concurrently, we’ll be working with Delta, Richmond and the Tsawwassen First Nation to identify interim improvements to relieve traffic congestion,” Halwani told council. “Our goal is to be tender-ready with these improvements by the fall of 2020.”

RELATED: Unity needed among mayors on Massey Tunnel replacement, Delta mayor says

Until then, the ministry will also work on immediate safety improvements to the aging tunnel, including better lighting, road resurfacing and drainage. As for when the region will have a new crossing, Halwani could not give an answer, only an optimistic estimate of 2025.

“Once the business case is completed in the fall [of 2020], we need to secure funding partners, then get into the design and then get to the construction,” Halwani said. “There is a process that needs to be followed to facilitate the design and the physical construction.”

Mayor George Harvie said completing the crossing by 2025 would be unrealistic if the province and stakeholders settle on an above-ground option that makes contact with the Fraser River. At that point, he said, the process will not only be delayed by a federal environmental assessment, but by opposition by the Tsawwassen and Musqueam First Nations.

“Their first priority, which they asked us to support, was protecting the salmon, protecting their heritage rights of fishing,” Harvie said.

“If [the project does] touch that river, it’s going to [require] a federal environmental assessment — we confirmed that back in Ottawa two weeks ago — and at the very end, it could possibly, more than very likely, be a no.”

If that happens, he said, completion could be pushed to 2030.

“That’s totally unacceptable for us.”

One option Harvie brought up with Halwani was a new deep-bore tunnel which would not touch the river, arguing that it could be a more time efficient solution as well.

“So I think your options have to look at which one will be the least [risky] from a environmental assessment point of view [and] on time,” Harvie said.

The mayor also suggested that if the project is starting anew, it should not use the current crossing’s name.

“We are not going to accept a refurbished tunnel that is 60 years old,” the mayor said, adding that some Deltans think the province is merely going to patch up the existing tunnel.

“From our engineering studies, we have learned there is a reason there are nets at the top of the tunnel as you exit or enter. It’s because it’s falling apart.”

Coun. Bruce McDonald did not fully agree with a new tunnel, citing a conversation he had with a guest at last Friday’s economic breakfast who said that if an earthquake strikes, the tunnel may have to be shut down.

“What would we do with the 80,000 plus vehicles a day that go through the tunnel?” McDonald said, asking for the ministry to conduct a study of such a scenario.

“The impact on this region if we ever had to shut it down would be absolutely devastating in every perspective. I think it’s a possibility.”

Coun. Lois Jackson said she still sees the need for a 10-lane bridge, with each side featuring three car lanes, a transit lane to be used ideally by a SkyTrain system, and an additional lane to handle future vehicle capacity.

“At this point in time, we have three lanes jammed in the morning, three lanes jammed at night, so really you’ve got to have those three lanes both ways,” Jackson told Halwani. “I still feel it is important that we stick with the 10 lanes, and that’s my reasoning.”

RELATED: 10-lane George Massey bridge too big, B.C. study says



sasha.lakic@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey School District building. (File photo)
‘We’re in a financial lockdown’: Surrey school district working with $40M budget deficit

District, board points to lack of immigration for new student enrolment

Surrey-raised Tetsuro Shigematsu wrote and stars in “1 Hour Photo,” a Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s production to be presented online by Surrey Civic Theatres on April 23-24. (submitted photo/Raymond Shum)
‘This Japanese kid who grew up in Whalley’ thrilled to return with acclaimed ‘1 Hour Photo’

City’s Digital Stage to show Tetsuro Shigematsu’s solo portrait of Mas Yamamoto

Steve Serbic, assistant chief of operations for the Surrey Fire Service, has written a book, “The Unbroken” delving into his struggles with post-traumatic stress. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey firefighter writes book to ‘be part of the change’ in stigma around post-traumatic stress

‘The Unbroken’ details Steve Serbic’s childhood, career and journey dealing with mental health issues

Everett Cummings in a tribute video posted to dignitymemorial.com.
Mechanic’s death at Surrey dock results in $200K fine for company, union says

Photos of rally outside Surrey court posted on ILWU’s ‘Kill A Worker Go To Jail’ Facebook page

Fish processing workers fillet farm-raised salmon in Surrey B.C. Photo courtesy BCSFA
Discovery Islands salmon farm removal impacts jobs in B.C.’s Lower Mainland: report

The City of Surrey is the hub of the salmon farming industry in Metro Vancouver

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Most Read