There’s no telling what a replacement to Richmond, B.C.’s, George Massey Tunnel may bring, but we should find out relatively soon.
British Columbia premier Christy Clark made replacing the heavily congested tunnel under the Fraser River a priority when she announced more than $200 million in capital projects across the province last month. That money includes enough cash to get the planning and design going on a new crossing—either above the water or below—that could be built in the next decade.
Originally constructed in 1959, the then-named Deas Island Tunnel took about three years to finish. But now it carries about 80,000 vehicles a day in the four-lane tunnel south of Vancouver. The 2,000-ft-long tunnel serves as a major connector for folks in Vancouver and Richmond to points south, including the heavily crossed Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Wash. And with that distinction carries the designation of one of the biggest traffic choking points in the region. Reversible lanes haven’t been able to quell the bottleneck that occurs with so many vehicles trying to squeeze through the tunnel.
Couple the heavy traffic congestion with complaints for years centering around the fact that a tunnel limits the size of ships that can enter the Fraser River, especially ones headed to the Fraser Surrey Docks, there will certainly be discussion on what a bridge would look like for that area.
The George Massey Tunnel is the first vehicle crossing of the Fraser River between the mouth of the river and points east. From there, travelling east, the Alex Fraser Bridge and Port Mann Bridge provide major crossings of the river southeast and east of Vancouver. The six-lane Golden Ears Bridge, connecting Langley and Maple Ridge, is the newest river crossing, opening in 2009.
The George Massey Tunnel, a single-tube split by a concrete wall, was a $29 million project that included immersed tube tunnel technology. While there’s nothing official to go off, expect to see plenty of plans for a new bridge in the area. The tunnel idea may simply get sunk.
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