The 10-lane, $3.5-billion bridge that is planned to replace the Massey Tunnel has been given the environmental green light from the B.C. Ministry of Environment.
The review, led by the Environmental Assessment Office, resulted in approval with 33 legally-enforceable conditions, including the right for Aboriginal groups to monitor construction and the requirement that impacts on animal and fish habitats and ecosystems are mitigated. It also found that the bridge would “eliminate” congestion delays and idling currently commonplace at the Massey Tunnel.
The decision states that the project “will be constructed and operated in a way that ensures no significant adverse effects are likely to occur.”
Transportation Minister Todd Stone has previously said the bridge project will greatly improve transportation across the Richmond and Delta region.
“A bridge will remove what is currently the worst traffic bottleneck in B.C. and eliminate over one million hours of vehicle idling each year – improving air quality in the region and cutting down on the greenhouse emissions churned out by the idling cars,” Stone said in June.
It is expected to include 200 kilometres of new highway.
The bridge has not been accepted as the solution to traffic woes by everyone. Last year, Metro Vancouver said it had concerns the project would harm the Deas Island Regional Park and Fraser River estuary, the world’s largest salmon-bearing estuary.
The environmental assessment took those concerns into account, according to the Ministry of Environment.
Bridge construction is expected to begin in 2017 and be complete by 2022.