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Richmond council asks province to keep tunnel, provide more info

The City of Richmond continues to feel left out of the George Massey Bridge project
Massey Tunnel Bridge
An artists's rendering of the George Massey Tunnel bridge replacement

In other local, transportation news, Mayor Malcolm Brodie and Richmond city councillors want to keep the George Massey Tunnel and are also, yet again, collectively asking for more consultation from the provincial government concerning the new $3 billion bridge proposal.

Brodie sent a letter to Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone on July 8 after meeting with him the previous day.

Brodie asked Stone for the bridge’s Project Definition Report so the city can prepare. He also asked for the ministry’s plan for funding the bridge and how it will be operated (whether or not there will be tolls). Furthermore, Brodie asked ‘what can be done to assure the preservation of the tunnel?’

He said the province’s Auditor General will study the business case that led to the decision to replace the tunnel.

“We want these answers and want to get a hold of the project definitions,” said Brodie on Monday.

Coun. Ken Johnston said he is in favour of the planned 10-lane bridge, but wants the tunnel to stay in place, possibly for future light-rail use, as was also suggested by Coun. Harold Steves.

“The whole (traffic) situation has to be improved, but we’d like greater input into it,” said Johnston. “As a council, we’re trying to find ways to utilize the tunnel.”

According to initial studies, 60 per cent of the traffic heading north from Delta ends up in Richmond. Brodie has long argued that the bottleneck will simply shift toward the Oak Street Bridge if nothing else is done. Johnston said he was sure a solution to that issue could be found.

According to media reports, Port Metro Vancouver has asked for the bridge to be taller than initially planned in order to have large ships pass underneath.

The port also requires the tunnel be taken out in order to dredge the river deeper for such ships. Steves said planning such a costly bridge without studying the impact of deeper dredging on the city’s dykes, as well as the environment, does not make sense.

Notably, Johnston also said he spoke to "a farmer" next to the proposed bridge (presumably Richmond Country Farms) who told him the farm property would not be affected by a planned cloverleaf at the Steveston Highway interchange.