The Government of British Columbia is moving forward with plans to replace the congested Massey Tunnel 20 kilometres south of downtown Vancouver. Public consultations begin December 1, and with this input the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure hopes to come up with a short-list of potential replacement options.
The existing 629-metre tunnel is part of the Highway 99 corridor, crossing the south arm of the Fraser River estuary to link Richmond north of the river with Delta and Surrey to the south.
It is a single tube structure that was the first to be constructed using precast construction methods when it was completed in 1959 (then named the Daas Island tunnel). It is also the lowest section of roadway in Canada, lying 22 metres below sea level at its lowest point.
It only has four lanes for traffic and currently carries over 80,000 vehicles. For almost 13 hours a day it is congested, with traffic queuing up 5 kilometres sometimes.
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said the tunnel "has been a major negative factor affecting the efficient movement of both people and goods around our region and in our city," while Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, welcomed the move to replace the tunnel as "a great relief for our residents and businesses alike."
The tunnel structure rests on the river bed, on a layer of sediment approximately 600 metres deep over bedrock. Approximately 10 years ago it underwent a seismic structural retrofit, with Buckland & Taylor providing the assessment and final engineering design.
The province reckons that the existing tunnel has 10 to 15 years of useful life remaining before its major components will need completely replacing.
Surrey mayor Dianne Watts noted at the launch of the public consultation process: "Seventy per cent of the region's growth is taking place south of the Fraser River, so replacing the George Massey Tunnel will help improve he flow of goods and people, and create a more efficient transportation system."
Between December 1 and December 11, public presentations will be held in Delta, Richmond and Surrey. For more information, click here.