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B.C. government orders independent review of George Massey Tunnel replacement

NDP government puts Massey Bridge on hold
WATCH: The NDP government has put the controversial Massey Tunnel replacement bridge on hold, pending an independent review. Keith Baldrey tells us what that means for the mega-project.

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said an independent technical review will be done on the George Massey Tunnel replacement.

According to the ministry, the review will focus on the best option to replace the tunnel.

“There’s a sense that not all the options were thoroughly examined,” Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena said.

Trevena said the ministry will be working “in conjunction with elected officials from the Lower Mainland who have a vision for how they want to see growth in the Lower Mainland.”

Globalnews.ca coverage of the George Massey Tunnel replacement

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The NDP has suggested that twinning the tunnel could be a better option as the region’s mayors are opposed to a new bridge for the crossing.

Trevena said all options are open.

“We are looking at the potential options for that crossing, whether it’s going to be a bridge of whatever size, whether it’s going to be fixing the tunnel, twinning the tunnel, doing some combination of bridge and tunnel,” said Trevena.

Preparatory construction on the $3.5-billion proposed bridge began earlier this spring.

According to Trevena, the government has already spent about $70 million on the project.

The government did not say how long the review process is expected to be.

There are over 100 studies and reports from 1989 up to this year on a government website devoted to the project.

Those studies include a look at the tunnel’s safety, an environmental assessment and traffic data reports.

LISTEN: Steele&Drex discuss government’s announcement on Massey replacement project 
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The BC Liberals slammed the province’s decision to halt the project, saying that “cancelling” the replacement puts the safety of commuters at risk.

Delta South MLA Ian Paton said this will cost taxpayers millions now, and billions when the NDP realize a new crossing is needed.

Meanwhile, Green Leader Andrew Weaver said he’s glad the province will review its options, adding that the two sides agreed transit and transportation infrastructure must be developed in cooperation with the Mayors’ Council in a way that reduces emissions and creates jobs.

But the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of BC is frustrated with the government’s decision.

“If you’re a driver in the Massey Tunnel lineup, you should be expecting to be in there for many more years to come because the NDP has just completely destroyed the project.”

READ MORE: Work to begin today on bridge to replace Massey Tunnel

Spokesperson Jordan Bateman said commuters are being put in danger every day they travel through the tunnel.

“It’s frustrating for us because the Massey Tunnel isn’t safe. It wouldn’t stand up to an even moderate earthquake,” said Bateman.

“We’re putting lives at risk every day by having people go through that tunnel, and it’s a piece of infrastructure that needs to be replaced.”

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He said construction workers try to find work on long-term projects like these because it gives them stability and allows them to develop roots in a community.

Richmond’s mayor believes that the Massey Bridge is one of many options available to ensure commuters can travel around Metro Vancouver.

Malcolm Brodie says it’s nice to see the New Democrats are listening to some of the concerns of municipal governments.

“I’m very pleased and I note that not only has Richmond city council asked for the pause. Delta city council has also asked for the review,” he said.

Brodie said there are other options for easing congestion that aren’t as expensive — like twinning the tunnel.

“But we need far better environmental treatment,” he said. “We need a solution that’s going to take into account everything from the taking of farm lands from park lands, to the tolls and the relationship with potential mobility pricing. So there’s all kinds of facets that need to be examined in terms of this project.”

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said this decision gives the NDP a chance to look at all of the options, but she wants to see a decision in the near future.

– With files from Kyle Benning, Simon Little, Jeremy Lye and The Canadian Press

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