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Eight-lane immersed-tube tunnel set to replace aging Massey Tunnel

Click to play video: 'NDP government unveils plans to replace aging Massey tunnel' NDP government unveils plans to replace aging Massey tunnel
The NDP government has finally unveiled its plans to replace the 62-year-old Massey tunnel, to mixed reviews. Richard Zussman reports – Aug 18, 2021

The B.C. government has decided to build a new eight-lane immersed-tube tunnel to replace the aging Massey Tunnel connecting Delta and Richmond on Highway 99.

“A new crossing to replace the George Massey Tunnel will improve traffic flow and make travel by transit, walking and cycling more convenient and attractive, without costing commuters hundreds of dollars a year in unfair tolls,” Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said Wednesday at a news conference.

“We’ve worked hard to make sure this is the right project for the region, and along with the other Highway 99 improvements getting underway, we’re getting people moving around in the region.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. transportation minister announces plans to replace the Massey Tunnel' B.C. transportation minister announces plans to replace the Massey Tunnel
B.C. transportation minister announces plans to replace the Massey Tunnel – Aug 18, 2021

The new eight-lane tunnel will be in operation in 2030, with the cost estimated at $4.15 billion.

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Two of the eight lanes will be dedicated to bus rapid transit, and there will be separated pathways for cyclists and pedestrians.

This means during peak rush hour, there will continue to be three lanes of vehicle traffic.

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

The previous Liberal government had started to build a 10-lane bridge to replace the aging commuter crossing, but that project was cancelled in 2017 when the NDP came to power.

Under the new replacement, the province said it does not expect traffic times to change for travellers heading with peak traffic. Where travel times will improve will be those going against peak traffic, it said.

Click to play video: 'Future of the Massey Tunnel' Future of the Massey Tunnel
Future of the Massey Tunnel – Aug 18, 2021

Traffic lanes will go from one to three, for example, for drivers heading from Richmond to Delta during peak morning hours.

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“This new tunnel will finally address our region’s worst bottleneck,” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said. “As long-standing supporters of the tunnel proposal, we commend the government for recognizing the benefits this approach will bring to the region’s long-term transportation challenges.”

The province had two options presented in the business case: an eight-lane tunnel and an eight-lane bridge.

The government said the tunnel was chosen because it best meets regional vision and interests and is endorsed by the Metro Vancouver Regional District board of directors.

Click to play video: 'Provincial government announces Massey Tunnel replacement' Provincial government announces Massey Tunnel replacement
Provincial government announces Massey Tunnel replacement – Aug 18, 2021

Read more: Metro Vancouver board greenlights eight-lane Massey Tunnel replacement

The project will also limit any new visual, noise, shading and lighting impacts over the life of the structure, has the fewest impacts to agricultural land, and will not introduce new navigational restrictions to the Fraser River, the province added.

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The next step is to initiate the environmental assessment process. This will include ongoing engagement with Indigenous peoples and preparing for procurement.

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