The George Massey Tunnel is considered B.C.’s worst traffic congestion point. (Black Press Media file photo)

Mayors, First Nations chiefs, urge ‘immediate action’ on new Massey crossing

Joint letter asks province to move up timeline, consider only eight-lane tunnel options

Several Metro Vancouver mayors and two First Nations chiefs have sent a joint letter to Premier John Horgan asking for “immediate action” to solve congestion around the George Massey Tunnel.

The letter sets out a number of criteria for the project, including completing construction by 2025-2026, four to five years sooner than the project’s current timeline.

“With the timelines currently being contemplated by the province, construction on a new crossing may not be completed before 2030 — a delay that greatly impacts the lives of tens of thousands of residents who make use of the tunnel each day, and the overall liveability of our region,” the letter reads.

READ MORE: ‘It’s falling apart’: Delta council stresses need for new Massey crossing

SEE ALSO: Province ‘moving quickly’ on safety upgrades to Massey Tunnel: North Delta MLA

The letter came about as a result of a meeting of municipal leaders organized by Delta Mayor George Harvie on Feb. 21 and was co-signed by Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker, Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow and then-Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Bryce Williams.

The mayors and chiefs were able to come to a consensus on several points. They agreed that only tunnel options should be considered, including a cost-effective deep bored tunnel “if possible,” and that those options should have six lanes for regular and commercial traffic and two lanes for transit with the potential to convert them to rail in the future, plus dedicated facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

(Scroll to the end of the story to read the full letter.)

The group also suggested the scope of the project should be expanded to include improvements along the entire Highway 99 corridor, specifically mentioning existing congestion at interchanges in South Surrey, and that it should address Richmond and Vancouver’s concerns regarding the potential to worsen congestion at the Oak Street Bridge and along the Oak Street corridor.

RELATED: Council wants Massey crossing project to include South Surrey interchanges

Other considerations the mayors and chiefs want the project to address include First Nation concerns regarding in-river works and fisheries impacts, Richmond and Delta’s concerns regarding local impacts at interchanges or access points, minimizing impacts on agricultural land and not creating additional potentially costly, lengthy or prohibitive environmental challenges or reviews.

The signatories also say whatever solution the province lands on must serve the needs of the region to at least 2100 and should be consistent with Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy and TransLink’s regional transportation strategy, the latter of which is currently being updated.

Delta Mayor George Harvie (centre-left) met with other mayors and First Nation chiefs on Feb. 21, 2019, to “achieve consensus and present a united voice to the provincial government about the need to take immediate action to solve traffic congestion at the George Massey Tunnel,” according to City of Delta press release. From left to right: Chief Wayne Sparrow (Musqueam Indian Band), former Chief Bryce Williams (Tsawwassen First Nation), Mayor George Harvie (Delta), Mayor Doug McCallum (Surrey), Mayor Malcolm Brodie (Richmond) and Mayor Darryl Walker (White Rock). (City of Delta photo)

“I am gratified that my colleagues across the region also view this as a very important issue,” Harvie said in a press release. “I hope we will be able to convince the province of the urgency of taking immediate action to resolve this terrible bottleneck.”

Harvie, Brodie, McCallum, Stewart and Walker were recently appointed to Metro Vancouver’s new George Massey Crossing Task Force, which will be responsible for reviewing project-related materials and providing feedback to provincial representatives, and considering project-related impacts to Metro Vancouver assets, plans, and infrastructure.

READ MORE: Delta mayor named to Metro Vancouver’s Massey Crossing task force

The task force — which also includes mayors Jack Froese (Langley Township), Val van den Broek (Langley City), and Jonathan Coté (New Westminster, representing the TransLink Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation) as well as Chief Ken Baird of the Tsawwassen First Nation and Metro Vancouver board chair Sav Dhaliwal (Burnaby) — will also provide the Metro Vancouver board with advice and recommendations about the project via the organization’s finance and intergovernment committee.

On Friday, April 26, the board is set to vote on supporting the project principles and goals developed by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Those goals are, broadly, to support the sustainability of Fraser River communities, facilitate an increased share of sustainable modes of transport, enhance regional goods movement and commerce, and support a healthy environment.

(Scroll to the end of the story for the full list of principles and goals.)

The principles and goals mark the first of three phases of engagement between the province and Metro Vancouver, TransLink, area municipalities and local First Nations, according to a report by Metro Vancouver staff. Phase two involves working with stakeholders to identify crossing options and choose one that best meets those goals. Phase two is expected to be completed by the end of November, 2019.

After that, the province will conduct a detailed assessment of the preferred option and finalize a business case for the project, expected by November 2020.

READ MORE: Replacement bridge unlikely for George Massey Tunnel, report says

SEE ALSO: George Massey Tunnel replacement could have been cheaper than expected



editor@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Sunshine Valley teens burning with promise

Possibly the youngest in B.C., Sunshine Valley trains 15- and 16-year-old firefighters

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

Taser takedown in Chilliwack complex after incident gets violent

Male suspect became agitated under questioning and repeatedly punched an officer

Hang gliding video gives stunning view of Harrison and Fraser river confluence

Aerial view shows striking difference between two rivers as they meet

Young Chilliwack singer launches career with French classic

Deanne Ratzlaff performs as featured vocalist in La Vie en Rose in Chilliwack, London and Paris

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

UPDATE: One dead after house fire in rural Maple Ridge

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, traffic being re-routed

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

No estimated time for opening

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

Most Read