At 10 lanes and a price tag of $3.5 billion, the planned bridge replacement for the George Massey Tunnel in British Columbia will come in as the largest bridge ever built in the Canadian province.
This month the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure unveiled design and cost details for the Highway 99 replacement of the 1959-opened George Massey Tunnel under the Fraser River. This planned new era of building will replace the tunnel by spanning the Fraser River south of Vancouver with a cable-stay bridge nearly 10,000 ft long, about 65 percent longer than the recently opened Port Mann Bridge.
The largest bridge ever built in the province will have four general travel lanes and one transit/HOV lane in each direction, said to reduce travel time for the 10,000 transit passengers and 80,000 vehicles per day up to 30 minutes while reducing collisions associated with merging into narrow tunnel lanes by 35 percent.
“A new 10-lane bridge will reduce the congestion that commuters currently face each day, and offer long-term options for transportation improvements in the region, like the addition of future rapid transit,” says Delta Mayor Lois E. Jackson. “The environmental benefits are also important to Delta residents, who will enjoy improved access to riverside parkland and regional cycling and walking trails.”
The George Massey Tunnel Improvement Project will also accommodate future SkyTrain line extension while adding in a multi-use pathway for cyclists and pedestrians.
The current tunnel, while far too small to handle the daily demands of traffic, also nears the end of its “useful life” while remaining seismically vulnerable. The new bridge will use tolls to help pay for construction.
Other project components include new interchanges at Highway 17A, Steveston Highway and Westminster Highway and widening approximately 15 miles of Highway 99 to include one dedicated transit/HOV lane in each direction from Highway 91 in Delta to Bridgeport Road in Richmond, tying into existing infrastructure.
Feedback on the project continues through Jan. 28, 2016, and following this feedback, the ministry will finalize the project scope and cost estimate and submit the project application for environmental review.
With this timeline in place, officials expect construction to start in 2017 directly over top of the current tunnel, taking five years to complete and opening—with a new name, of course—in 2022.
Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.