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B.C. George Massey bridge project gets environmental go ahead

The environmental assessment certificate for the tunnel decommissioning and bridge building project comes with 33 conditions.


bridge

George Massey bridge conceptual image (source: BC Government)

The B.C. government has issued an Environmental Assessment Certificate to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for the George Massey Tunnel Replacement project, which includes: building a new 10-lane, clear span bridge over the South Arm of the Fraser River; replacing the Westminster Highway, Steveston Highway and Highway 17A interchanges; widening Highway 99 between Bridgeport Road in Richmond and Highway 91 in Delta to accommodate dedicated transit/High Occupancy Vehicle lanes; and decommissioning the George Massey Tunnel.

The certificate has been issued with 33 conditions. Key findings that assisted ministers in concluding that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur from the project include:

  • the design of a clear span bridge across the Fraser River to avoid instream footprint effects on fish and fish habitat;
  • tunnel decommissioning would not result in changes to the size of vessels using the Fraser River; and
  • analysis that indicated the project would eliminate congestion delays and idling at the tunnel, providing relief for a number of local Richmond roads.

Key conditions and requirements mean that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure must:

  • Develop a management plan to minimize potential impacts on fish and fish habitat during project construction;
  • Develop a fish habitat offsetting plan that includes restoration of Green Slough and Deas Slough;
  • Establish a marine users group and develop a plan to manage marine access during construction to reduce potential disruption to commercial, recreational, or Aboriginal marine users;
  • Ensure access to fisheries for Aboriginal and commercial fishers during project construction;
  • Participate in any initiatives related to the monitoring, assessment, or management of cumulative environmental effects;
  • Develop a traffic and access management plan and establish a transportation working group for Highway 99, in order to share the results of traffic monitoring data and identify and discuss the operation of transportation infrastructure and the integration with adjacent infrastructure; and
  • Continue to consult with Aboriginal groups, including during the development of management plans, and provide opportunities for Aboriginal groups to participate in environmental monitoring activities.

In early October last year the procurement process for this project reached the RFP stage, when the Government of British Columbia invited three pre-qualified bidding teams to participate in the RFP stage to design, build, partially finance and operate the project. The total cost of the project is estimated at $3.5 billion.

The three teams selected to participate in the RFP include:

  • Gateway Mobility Solutions:
    • Equity partners: ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc., Aecon Concessions, HOCHTIEF PPP Solutions North America Inc. and Star America Infrastructure Partners
    • Design-build contractors: Dragados Canada, Inc. and Flatiron Constructors Canada Limited
  • Lower Mainland Connectors:
    • Equity partners: Kiewit Canada, Macquarie and VINCI Concessions
    • Design-build contractors: B.A. Blacktop, Janin Atlas Inc., and Peter Kiewit Infrastructure Co.
  • Pacific Skyway Partners:
    • Equity partners: Fluor Canada Ltd., John Laing Investment Limited and SNC-Lavalin Capital Inc.
    • Design-build contractors: American Bridge Company, Fluor Canada Ltd., and SNC-Lavalin Constructors (Pacific) Inc.

The ministry expects to have its preferred proponent chosen by this summer.

The project includes:

  • Construction of a 10-lane bridge built to modern seismic standards, with four general travel lanes and one dedicated transit/HOV lane in each direction;
  • Replacement of three interchanges at Westminster Highway, Steveston Highway and Highway 17A;
  • Widening of approximately 24 kilometres of Highway 99 to accommodate dedicated transit/HOV lanes from Bridgeport Road in Richmond to Highway 91 in Delta;
  • Replacement of the Deas Slough Bridge;
  • Construction of multi-use pathways on either side of the bridge for cyclists and pedestrians; and
  • Decommissioning of the tunnel.