00-gill-protest-signs-03jpg-350x263

Well, where would that be? If you are Minister Todd Stone and you are writing a letter to The Richmond News published October 25 in response to the  potential twinning of the Massey Tunnel under the Fraser River, it IS the Massey Tunnel.

Answering a query to the 2006 Gateway Program Definition Report that identified a longer-term plan to twin the George Massey Tunnel,  Minister Stone responds: “Twinning the tunnel in this context was not an endorsement of the construction of a new tunnel, but rather the report promoted the need to increase the capacity of this vital crossing.”

“There is no doubt amongst anyone who must pass through the current tunnel that a change is necessary. The George Massey Tunnel represents the single worst bottleneck in the province. Over the last 10 years, the ministry has engaged in detailed technical analysis and broad consultation on a number of options that will ensure the smoother movements of people and goods along this important corridor.”

And here is the best part of the letter:  “The new bridge will be 10 lanes wide, benefitting both drivers and transit users with increased reliability and reduced transit travel time. The new bridge design includes dedicated transit/HOV lanes to ensure reliable transit service, and will be built to accommodate future rapid transit service. It will also have added access for cyclists and pedestrians. This free-flowing bridge is expected to reduce GHGs by about 13,000 tonnes a year, a 70 per cent reduction from current conditions at the tunnel, and save most commuters 30 minutes a day.”

Now that is news to me that pedestrians will be walking across the proposed Massey Bridge. I don’t know where they will be walking to or from. I expect the tonnes of GHG reduction must be from the Province’s estimation of vehicles idling, which of course could also be solved by tunnel twinning. And of course free-flowing refers to traffic ON the bridge, not the bottlenecks that will  occur off the bridge.

Not only does Minister Stone say that a new tunnel would be more expensive than a bridge, he notes a tunnel “ also carry significantly more construction risks and would have a greater impact on the environment, private property, agricultural land, and the Fraser River. The George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project is subject to British Columbia’s world class environmental assessment process that incorporates the feedback from several federal agencies, including the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Transport Canada, into their final decision. And let me be clear — there are no plans to dredge the Fraser River.”

Minister Stone notes that the new bridge will survive a one in 2,475 seismic earthquake event, and that public feedback on the project has been “instrumental” and the project “will continue to incorporate local advice”.

The full statement can be read here.

cfjc-toddstone