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

Thomas Dawson Peacock
Surrey man, 32, charged with sexual interference

Incidents alleged to have happened in Surrey and Abbotsford

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. (File photo)
Seven youths from Surrey/White Rock were recognized at Thursday’s SASSY Awards. Top row from left: Joon Sohn, Samuel Albert, Sherry Sandhu and Abbie Dubet; bottom row from left: Amberlee Moore, Kristen Ricord, Anna McNicholl. (Contributed photo)
Seven Surrey/White Rock youth honoured at SASSY Awards

Annual event held virtually this year due to COVID-19 pandemic

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Five Surrey schools report COVID-19 exposures, with another at Sullivan Heights

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

Hay bales can be donated to Critter Care Wildlife Society. (Critter Care/Special to The Star)
Straw bales used for Halloween decor can be donated to Critter Care Wildlife Society

Langley animal facility said they are always need in of fresh bedding

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

The Excelsior 4 are set to make their second court appearance in Abbotsford on Monday (Nov. 2). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
‘Excelsior 4’: Animal activists set to enter not guilty plea in Abbotsford hog farm case

Animal rights activists expected to plead not guilty to charges, protest for Vancouver scheduled

Dennis Cholowski shows off a Jordan 2 Retro Just Don Blue sneaker, the type of shoe only a true sneakerhead would appreciate. (Facebook photo)
VIDEO: Chilliwack Chiefs alum Dennis Cholowski shows off ‘sneakerhead’ collection

The Detroit Red Wing has been spending his NHL paycheques building up an impressive closet of shoes

Most Read