Delta mayor welcomes Massey safety upgrades but keeps pressure on tunnel replacement

The George Massey Tunnel in Vancouver is a four-lane tunnel that is burrowed under the south arm of the Fraser River estuary. CP Images

Delta’s mayor says he’s happy to see money in the provincial budget to keep the aging George Massey Tunnel safe, but still wants to see the crossing replaced as soon as possible.

The NDP’s 2020 budget does not include a line item for the long-delayed replacement, instead promising a crucial update in this fall.

“The work is being done right now on the Massey crossing,” said Finance Minister Carole James, Tuesday.

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

“The business case will come forward this fall. There’s planning money, as you know. in the budget for that.”

Along with a business case, the province has set next fall as a deadline to decide the project’s scope, budget, delivery and schedule.

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“I’ll be really expecting a line item a year from now in next year’s budget, if not, then we’re going to say, ‘hey, that was a promise made, but a promise not kept,'” said Mayor George Harvie.

Click to play video: 'Future of the Massey Tunnel.'
Future of the Massey Tunnel.

“I want to keep pressuring that. They need to get on with that business case in advance of the end of the year.”

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The 2020 budget includes $314 million for transportation and trade network reliability, a portion of which will be dedicated to safety improvements, planning and design for Phase 1 interim congestion relief and transit priority projects and advancing the replacement’s planning.

Harvie said he’s asked the province to improve pavement and lighting in the four-lane tunnel, in addition to conducting regular maintenance and safety checks.

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He said he’s also pushing for more discussions with the federal government, who he said will be “key” in funding the replacement.

Last fall, Metro Vancouver’s board of directors voted to endorse an eight-lane immersed-tube tunnel to replace the current crossing, on the recommendation of a task force set up to probe various options.

The future of the crossing has been in limbo since the NDP government scrapped a 10-lane bridge which had been approved by the previous BC Liberal government in 2017.

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