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Massey crossing task force to pick from bridge, tunnel, combo options Wednesday

Click to play video: 'Mayors’ task force to decide on replacement option for Massey tunnel' Mayors’ task force to decide on replacement option for Massey tunnel
It is decision day for the mayors who are tasked with selecting a replacement for the ageing Massey tunnel. Neetu Garcha has more on what the possible outcomes will be – Oct 2, 2019

The future of the beleaguered Massey crossing connecting Richmond and Delta will become clearer to Metro Vancouver residents on Wednesday.

That’s when a task force of Metro Vancouver mayors established to recommend a preferred option to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel is slated to make its pick.

READ MORE: Is the bridge dead? Report on future of Massey crossing due Monday

The move comes after B.C.’s NDP government scrapped a previously-approved 10-lane bridge project, following an independent technical review.

Provincial officials have narrowed the choice down to a shortlist of six options, including several that would retain the existing tunnel for transit use.

  • A new eight-lane immersed-tube tunnel with multi-use pathway
  • A new eight-lane bridge with multi-use pathway
  • A new eight-lane deep-bore tunnel, retain existing tunnel as multi-use pathway
  • A new six-lane immersed-tube tunnel, retain existing tunnel for two lanes of transit
  • A new six-lane bridge, retain existing tunnel for two lanes of transit
  • A new six-lane deep-bore tunnel, retain existing tunnel for two lanes of transit

A Metro Vancouver report to the task force highlights the tough choice ahead.

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The existing tunnel could have another 50 years of life in it, given a rehabilitation and regular maintenance, according to the report.

However, it would need ground densification and upgrades for seismic safety and flood protection, the report notes, adding “the cost of these upgrades would be substantial.”

WATCH: B.C. premier hints at twinning Massey Tunnel

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B.C. premier hints at twinning Massey Tunnel – May 23, 2019

The most expensive, “technically challenging” and “high risk” option would be the construction of a deep-bore tunnel.

The report says it would cost about three times as much as an immersed-tube tunnel or a bridge.

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

What’s more, it would require one of the world’s largest tunnel boring machines to carve out two 3.5-kilometre corridors, to a peak depth of 79 metres.

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Crews would need to remove 3 million cubic metres of salt-contaminated soil, and an environmental assessment would be needed to look at effects on the river.

WATCH: New report suggests smaller bridge or new Massey Tunnel

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New report suggests smaller bridge or new Massey Tunnel – Dec 17, 2018

The immersed-tube tunnel options would cost about the same as a bridge option and would be “moderately challenging,” according to the report.

Immersed tube tunnel construction refers to the use of prefabricated tunnel segments which are moved to the construction site and assembled in the river.

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

It would require one kilometre of tunneling, a large staging area, and the removal of 1.5 million cubic metres of salt-contaminated soil.

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The report says it would have the greatest environmental impact during construction, requiring excavation on both sides of the river, along with the most complex environmental assessment due to potential impacts to fish habitat.

These options also require ground densification along the entire tunnel route, and would likely require two construction seasons, according to the report.

The two bridge options would have the least complex environmental assessment, which the report says would be largely similar to the assessment already completed for the scrapped 10-lane bridge project.

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

Both options would require about three kilometres of bridge and approaches, and foundations about 80 metres deep, the report said.

If the task force signs off on one of the options, it would then be forwarded to Metro Vancouver’s finance committee and full board, and would undergo public engagement, including with affected city councils.

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