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Horgan teases twinning of Massey Tunnel, says province could get going ‘quite quickly’

Click to play video: 'B.C. premier hints at twinning Massey Tunnel' B.C. premier hints at twinning Massey Tunnel
WATCH: B.C. Premier John Horgan dropped a big hint today that his government could soon greenlight the twinning of the Massey Tunnel, a major traffic bottleneck in Metro Vancouver. Jordan Armstrong reports – May 23, 2019

Premier John Horgan has made his government’s clearest statement yet on the possible future of the congestion-plagued George Massey Tunnel.

Asked about the crossing Thursday, Horgan said he was pleased that the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council had “come to an agreement that the best way forward would be to twin the tunnel,” an option he said would be cheaper than a bridge and not require tolls.

WATCH: Keith Baldrey on federal funding for the Massey Tunnel project

Click to play video: 'Keith Baldrey on federal funding for the Massey Tunnel project' Keith Baldrey on federal funding for the Massey Tunnel project
Keith Baldrey on federal funding for the Massey Tunnel project – May 23, 2019

“We have talked to the federal government who would not participate in the former Massey plan because there was tolls involved,” said Horgan.

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“Now that we have an opportunity to get a federal partner, we have unanimity at the mayors’ council, I think there’s every possibility that we can get started on this in a more timely way than would have been there otherwise.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver mayors want Massey Tunnel replacement sooner than estimated

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, said his council has long supported refurbishing and twinning the existing tunnel, but that the mayors’ council was actually was open to a wider variety of tunnel solutions.

“We talked about the possibility of a deep-bored tunnel,” Brodie said.

WATCH: Mayors and First Nations call for Massey Tunnel replacement

Click to play video: 'Mayors and First Nations call for Massey Tunnel replacement' Mayors and First Nations call for Massey Tunnel replacement
Mayors and First Nations call for Massey Tunnel replacement – Apr 25, 2019

“Number one for people is they want it done and they want it done now.”

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Horgan’s comments come on the same day as a “birthday party” for the 60-year-old tunnel organized by pressure groups who slammed the province for delays on upgrading the crossing.

Preparatory work had already begun on a 10-lane bridge to replace the tunnel when the NDP government took power and paused the project in 2017.

In December, a government-commissioned report recommended scrapping the bridge and conducting new consultations on what to replace the tunnel with.

WATCH: Political reactions to Massey Tunnel report, new Pattullo Bridge

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Political reactions to Massey Tunnel report, new Pattullo Bridge – Dec 17, 2018
“[The tunnel] is woefully out of date, it is falling apart, it is not seismically safe and it is in desperate need of replacement,” said Independent Contractors Business Association (ICBA) spokesperson Jordan Bateman.
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“It has now been two years, we are no closer to a new Massey crossing.”

READ MORE: Report suggests B.C. government go back to drawing board for Massey Tunnel replacement

Several companies that are members of the ICBA were contracted to work on the originally-planned 10-lane bridge.

BC Liberal MLA Jas Johal said the current tunnel situation is one of the worst bottlenecks in the region, with 80,000 commercial and commuter trips every day.

WATCH: Report suggests new consultations, options for Massey Tunnel replacement

Click to play video: 'Report suggests new consultations, options for Massey Tunnel replacement' Report suggests new consultations, options for Massey Tunnel replacement
Report suggests new consultations, options for Massey Tunnel replacement – Dec 17, 2018

“It’s having tremendous impacts on peoples’ lives and what they do, and businesses,” he said, noting that London Drugs had threatened to pull its headquarters in the area over gridlock.

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“Something has to be done… if we had moved forward with the bridge, like we had proposed when we were in government, it would be a third [of] the way done already, we’d be close to cutting a ribbon in a couple of years.”

On Thursday, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said options for a replacement crossing were expected “later this year,” with a business plan due by next year.

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