Metro Vancouver mayors have endorsed an eight-lane immersed-tube tunnel — with two of those lanes dedicated to transit — to replace the aging Massey Tunnel.
The recommendation was made during Wednesday’s Massey Tunnel task force meeting, following a report from provincial officials outlining six shortlisted options. Only Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Ken Baird voted against the motion, citing concerns about the impact on wildlife.
The task force considered six options for the tunnel’s replacement:
- An eight-lane immersed-tube tunnel;
- An eight-lane deep-bored tunnel;
- An eight-lane bridge;
- A six-lane bridge;
- A six-lane deep-bored tunnel, and;
- A six-lane immersed-tube tunnel.
Several of the options included dedicated lanes for transit or multi-use pathways, or incorporating the existing tunnel.
But the province’s report notes a deep-bored tunnel would cost three times more than the other bridge and tunnel options. Meanwhile, the bridge options would cause negative visual and noise impacts to nearby communities.
According to the province’s report presented to the committee on Wednesday, the immersed-tube tunnel would need to go through a new environmental assessment.
An earlier report, released Tuesday ahead of the meeting, noted that the immersed-tube tunnel would be “moderately challenging” to construct, but would have the largest environmental impacts with the east and west portions of Deas Island Regional Park being separated during excavation work.
The province has yet to confirm a cost estimate for the replacement or a timeline.
It’s been a long road to replace the tunnel. In 2017, the provincial NDP government scrapped the previous B.C. Liberal government’s planned $3.5-billion 10-lane bridge following an independent report.
And in March of this year, multiple Metro Vancouver mayors including Richmond Mayor Malcom Brodie and Delta Mayor George Harvie wrote a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan asking for an eight-lane tunnel, to be completed by 2025 or 2026.
And while the future of the tunnel is a little clearer, there are still more steps in the process. The recommendation will now go to Metro Vancouver’s finance committee, and will also need to be presented to the Metro Vancouver board. The new tunnel will also need to undergo public consultation.