The provincial government has been sitting on the George Massey Tunnel replacement business case for five months but, as yet, no decision has been announced on the project.
Richmond city council recently asked city staff to update them on the project, but as the ministry is staying mum on whether the tunnel will be replaced by a bridge or another tunnel, there is no concrete update in the report going to council.
“Despite repeated requests by staff, the Ministry Project Team has not provided any update on the process or a scheduled date for the decision on the preferred technology,” states the report going to Richmond council’s public works and transportation committee next week (June 22).
The two options being considered would both be eight-lanes wide.
While the region waits for a decision on the tunnel replacement project – for the most congested traffic area in the province – plans are underway to improve traffic flow on the highway corridor leading to the George Massey Tunnel; albeit, no funding has been earmarked for any projects.
This includes twinning the Steveston Highway overpass, for which funding hasn’t been approved. City staff state in their report that it could be approved in June, and, if so, would be completed by 2025.
Another project is a bus-only lane on the Sea Island Way on-ramp to Highway 99.
Improvements are also planned for the Delta side of the tunnel.
The previous government planned a 10-lane bridge at the crossing, something vehemently opposed by Richmond city council, partially because it would have encroached on farmland and greenspace.
The 10-lane bridge received an environmental assessment certificate in February 2017.
But a few months later, the BC NDP formed government and, in October, they scrapped the 10-lane bridge plan and started a new planning process.
In February 2020, the two new options were revealed to the public and in December, the business case was finished; however, nothing has been made public since then.
The immersed tube tunnel would require a three-year environmental review and five years to build.
The bridge, on the other hand, would need a one-to-two year environmental review but would also take five years to build.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told the Richmond News, in a statement Thursday, that discussions are on-going with the federal government on cost-sharing to pay for the new crossing.
- with files from Kirsten Clarke