The provincial government is preparing to kick off the first round of public consultation into replacing the 53-year-old Massey Tunnel.
The tunnel has about 10-15 years left in it before it will start to need major repairs, with any replacement project taking around 10 years to plan, construct and finish.
Open houses begin in Delta on Dec. 1 at the Delta Town & Country Hotel, before the people of Richmond get their first bite at the consultation on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 6 - 9 p.m. (presentation at 8 p.m.) at the Sandman Vancouver Airport Hotel, 10251 Saint Edwards Dr.
The next open house in the city is on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 6 - 9 p.m. (presentation at 8 p.m.) at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
Other open houses are planned throughout the month in Cloverdale and South Surrey.
The existing four-lane tunnel opened in 1959 and now carries more than 80,000 vehicles each day under the south arm of the Fraser River.
It's the only major Fraser River crossing in Metro Vancouver with a single lane of traffic in the off-peak direction during the daily commute.
The launch of the public consultation is the first step to help determine the most appropriate solution to meet the growing needs of families, commuters, businesses and others that rely on the crossing.
The consultation program will include a variety of methods for the public and stakeholders to be involved and provide input, including online engagement, stakeholder meetings and five public open houses. The ministry will use this input to develop a short-list of potential replacement options for additional public consultation in the New Year.
Premier Christy Clark announced at last month's Union of B.C. Municipalities conference the government's intention to replace the tunnel.
"Traffic congestion is one of the main concerns of our region," said Mayor Malcolm Brodie.
"Over time, the Massey Tunnel has been a major negative factor affecting the efficient movement of both people and goods around our region and in our city."
The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Mary Polak, said the status quo is simply "not an option" any more.
Delta's mayor, Lois Jackson, said Delta is the community probably most affected by tunnel congestion and it is a "great relief" to see a replacement plan.
"For several years, we have been lobbying for something to be done and I would personally like to thank Premier Christy Clark and Transportation Minister Mary Polak for listening and taking decisive
action in moving forward with this vital link," said Jackson.
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