BC Liberals hold ribbon cutting for ‘bridge that should have been’

Click to play video: 'Liberals hold ‘ribbon-cutting’ for cancelled Massey Tunnel bridge'
Liberals hold ‘ribbon-cutting’ for cancelled Massey Tunnel bridge
WATCH: Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon has staged a 'mock' ribbon-cutting of the Massey Tunnel replacement bridge, which he says would be complete by now if the NDP hadn't cancelled the project. Grace Ke reports. – Sep 7, 2022

The BC Liberals held a mock ribbon cutting for the “bridge that should have been” Wednesday, as they marked the projected completion date for the cancelled project to replace the ageing George Massey Tunnel.

“This month would have been, should have been, the date that 10-lane bridge would have opened to the benefit of all of those commuters from Surrey, from Delta, from Richmond,” BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon said.

“That, ladies and gentlemen, is the result of an NDP government that made what I believe is one of the worst capital decisions ever in the history of the province.”

The BC Liberals approved the project, aimed at cutting congestion at the notorious four-lane tunnel, in 2012.

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The government had secured environmental approvals and already spent about $100 million on preparatory work for the $3.5-billion project when the NDP came to power in 2017 and cancelled it.

Click to play video: 'Political fight over the Massey Tunnel project'
Political fight over the Massey Tunnel project

The 10-lane bridge option had been opposed by the Metro Vancouver board of directors, and was unpopular with the region’s mayors with the exception of Delta.

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A task force of mayors and the Metro Vancouver board both endorsed the eight-lane immersed-tube tunnel that was eventually selected by the NDP.

Two of the eight lanes will be dedicated to bus rapid transit, leaving three lanes for private vehicle traffic. In its current state, the existing tunnel provides three lanes in one direction during peak periods by use of a counter-flow lane, though without an additional dedicated transit lane.

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The province has acknowledged it doesn’t expect travel times to improve for those travelling with peak traffic, though it says commutes would significantly improve for those heading against peak traffic.

The Ministry of Transportation has projected the tunnel will be complete by 2030 with a cost of $4.15 billion.

Click to play video: 'Two significant B.C. infrastructure projects to have new names chosen'
Two significant B.C. infrastructure projects to have new names chosen

Falcon attacked that timeline, arguing the tunnel will face years of review for environmental assessment.

“The price will be paid by all of the commuters that will be stuck in the kind of traffic gridlock we see here for another decade.”

Premier John Horgan stood by the government’s tunnel plans Wednesday, taking a shot at the BC Liberals’ 10-lane option.

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“He was going to toll a bridge in the Lower Mainland, we are in the business of taking tolls off bridges,” Horgan said.

“We believe the immersed tunnel is a better course of action for the environment, is a better course of action for cost effectiveness, and it meets the needs of a majority of municipalities in the region who were uniformly, save one, opposed to the BC Liberal plan.”

The NDP has previously said it believes the environmental assessment for the tunnel will be complete before the scheduled provincial election in the fall of 2024.

Falcon said if construction on the project has not begun by then and the BC Liberals take power, he will scrap the tunnel and go back to the 10-lane bridge concept.

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