First off, the Province still seems pretty resolute at building the Massey Bridge despite mounting concerns about how the project is being handled. MLA Vicki Huntington has written asking for information from the Province about gaps and assumptions about impacts on traffic, agriculture, wildlife and the community. The governments’ current application for an environmental certificate shows traffic estimates for a tolled new crossing would be approximately 40,000 vehicles less than one with no toll.

Ms. Huntington notes,  “Many of my concerns centre around both the government’s traffic projections, and the lack of progress on a regional tolling policy review that was promised three years ago. I have repeatedly pressed the transportation minister to honour his promise to undertake that review, only to hear the same response: “There is plenty of time to talk about regional tolling.” I disagree. And Metro Vancouver mayors disagree. A Massey bridge toll could cost South Delta commuters more than $1,000 annually. It will affect not only how much traffic there is at the new bridge, but how much of it diverts to the heavily congested Alex Fraser.

This is especially concerning because many businesses on Annacis Island are already affected by traffic congestion, and some are considering packing up shop in search of greener pastures. With the proposed Massey bridge in place, the government’s own application says we can expect an extra 33,000 vehicles a day at the Alex Fraser by 2045. So the situation is set to get much worse.”

Dermod Travis has written a compelling article in Business in Vancouver regarding the financial costs of building the tunnel replacement. The Executive Director of Integrity BC, Travis notes that on the Massey Bridge’s website:

” …accounting firm KPMG – it has been advising on the project – says it’ll be in the neighbourhood of “$2 billion to $3 billion.” What’s $1 billion between friends? The government says $3.4997 billion (you read that right).Given the precision of the government’s estimate, it’s a tad worrisome that the Transportation Ministry was out doing test pile drives this spring.”

“It might be interesting to see how the geotechnical data used for the $3.5 billion estimate compares with the latest results. No one is chomping at the bit to release them. After cost comes performance. Three teams made it to the requests-for-proposals stage. Flatiron Canada is a member of the Gateway Mobility Solutions team and Kiewit Canada is part of the Lower Mainland Connectors team.”

“Together they’re responsible for the new Port Mann Bridge. They overshot the $2.4 billion fixed-price contract by $424 million…FSNC-Lavalin, Kiewit and Flatiron have completed five transportation projects in B.C. with a combined initial estimate of $3.8 billion. Final price tag? $6.5 billion.

With Metro Vancouver and all but one of its mayors giving a thumbs-down to the Massey project, there’s not much public buy-in for it. So here’s an idea: hit pause.

B.C.’s auditor general, Carol Bellringer, announced last year that her office would conduct a performance audit “to evaluate the quality of evidence to support the decision to replace the George Massey Tunnel.” If the government’s numbers are all on the up and up, what could it possibly fear from taking a few months to let the auditor general do her thing and report back?

Better a cost overrun avoided than a cost overrun paid out.”

The full text of Dermod’s article is available here.