Massey Tunnel ProjectGeorge Massey Tunnel Replacement Project
On December 17, 2018, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure released the Independent Technical Review of the George Massey Tunnel Crossing. The key findings of the review undertaken by Stan Cowdell of Westmar Advisors are:
- a tunnel crossing of up to eight lanes is feasible for a new crossing and could be less expensive with fewer impacts;
- retrofitting the existing tunnel to use in tandem with a new crossing is possible;
- a smaller 6- to 8-lane bridge would accommodate the majority of traffic predicted by 2045;
- the 10-lane bridge project did not fully address a number of key considerations, such as community alignment, liveability and cost, which likely resulted in stakeholder concerns;
- the existing shoulder bus lanes work well and could be expanded as necessary;
- highway improvements are equally important to reducing congestion; and
- a corridor realignment could further reduce the project’s scale, complexity and cost.
From January to April 2019, the Province will undertake consultation with regional municipalities and First Nations to identify new criteria and goals for a crossing that better align with regional plans. This collective information will be used to develop and assess appropriate bridge and tunnel options that reflect community preferences with a new business case to be developed by Fall 2020. Additionally, scoping work for improvements to the Steveston interchange to reduce congestion will begin immediately.
An estimated $40 million will be allocated to a number of interim upgrades scheduled to be undertaken in 2019 through 2020 on the existing tunnel to address deficiencies. These upgrades include the following:
- converting tunnel and roadway lighting to the new LED standard and washing the interior more frequently to increase visibility to improve safety;
- upgrading the alarm, pumping, ventilation, fire door, and electrical systems to meet current standards and ensure reliability;
- resurfacing Highway 99 between Steveston Highway and the Highway 17 Interchange, including better lane markings and more reflective signs to improve safety; and
- improving tunnel drainage to reduce the risk to drivers from pooling water and ice at tunnel entrances.
The City of Richmond has welcomed the Province’s review of the bridge project and its commitment to consult with the City and other stakeholders in considering all options for addressing traffic congestion. In response to the Province’s latest announcement, Council passed a number of following motions at its January 28, 2019 meeting requesting that the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure:
- pursue short-term strategic improvements to the Steveston Highway interchange and expedite the completion of a business case for Highway 99 crossing improvements
- work with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to limit port traffic from using the George Massey Tunnel Crossing during peak hours; and
- request that TransLink review increasing bus capacity for routes along the George Massey Tunnel Crossing;
Richmond City Council recognizes the need to address traffic congestion around the Tunnel, as it negatively impacts the region’s economy and quality of life for its residents. The City is committed to working closely and collaboratively with the Province and other stakeholders to consider all options for addressing the congestion at the tunnel.
Richmond has already proposed two alternative options for twinning the existing tunnel as potential better solutions for addressing current traffic congestion at the South Fraser crossing in the long term. A report outlining alternative crossing options was presented to Council on July 24, 2017.
In considering the alternative options for an improved crossing, staff identified the following criteria for further evaluation:
- have little to no net adverse effects on the environment;
- minimize the scale of the infrastructure in order to lessen the environmental, land use and agricultural impacts;
- be compatible with the Regional Growth Strategy (i.e., reduce reliance on private auto use, limit increased SOV capacity, accommodate expanded and improved public transit service, and promote a mode shift to high occupancy vehicles (HOV) with three or more occupants); and
- address current traffic congestion at both ends of the Tunnel by providing better transit and effective measures to manage private auto travel demand and more efficient integration with adjacent interchanges (merge and diverge traffic operations).
Based on preliminary order-of-magnitude cost estimation, the following two options which would best address the above criteria, could potentially be implemented without exceeding the current estimated project cost of $3.5 billion.Option 1: Retain Existing Tunnel and Add 4-Lane Tunnel (Twinning)
Option 1 would retain and upgrade the existing 4-lane tunnel and add a new 4-lane tube adjacent to the existing tunnel. Of the four new lanes, two would be reserved for High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) and bus transit use only (and be readily convertible to accommodate future Light Rapid Transit) and two would be used by general purpose traffic for better connection with the two adjacent interchanges (i.e., Steveston Highway and Highway 17A). The resulting six lanes for general purpose traffic through the tunnels would provide greater flexibility with respect to their operation in the most efficient arrangement (e.g., could be operated as three lanes in each direction at all times or with a peak period counter-flow system with four lanes in the peak direction and two lanes in the non-peak direction).Option 2: Retain Existing Tunnel and Add 2-Lane Bus-HOV Only Tunnel
Option 2 would retain and upgrade the existing 4-lane tunnel and add a new 2-lane tunnel crossing for bus transit and High Occupancy Vehicle use only that would be readily convertible to accommodate future LRT. A future LRT line could extend from either the Bridgeport or Richmond-Brighouse Stations of the Canada Line to the existing Tunnel crossing and under the river to Delta and ultimately further south, which is consistent with TransLink’s Regional Transportation Strategy that identifies future rapid transit along the Highway 99 corridor south of the Oak Street Bridge. Any future LRT alignment and costing would be determined by TransLink.
Past Reports to City Council
Reports are provided in Adobe Acrobat pdf format.
Relevant DocumentsWestmar Advisors - Independent Technical Review of the George Massey Crossing, September 2018
Metro Vancouver Report: June 24, 2016