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Just in case anyone thought that the Massey Bridge was not a fait accompli by the Province, the Delta Fire Chief and Chief Administrative Officer weighed in with more reasons why the tunnel needed to be replaced during a Delta Council meeting, as reported in the Delta Optimist.

Perhaps feeling stung by the lack of support by other regional municipalities  for the replacement of the current four lane  tunnel for a ten lane bridge, Delta has prepared a new report  saying  that the tunnel had a higher accident rate than the provincial average and that vehicular accidents tend to be more severe and result in more significant injuries and death than accidents on open roads.  

Because the accidents happen in the tunnel emergency vehicles can often not access the problem, and first responders have to enter the tunnel on foot. The report also adds In terms of disaster management, there are significant concerns with the existing tunnel, which has approximately 10 years left before major components, such as lighting, ventilation and pumping systems, need to be replaced. Seismic upgrades were completed in the early 2000s which will withstand smaller earthquakes; however, the tunnel will not withstand a major earthquake, and it is not feasible to upgrade it to modern seismic standards.”

Apparently Mayor Brodie of Richmond has written the Premier and the Transportation Minister asking the Province to collaborate with all regional municipalities in this Massey Tunnel rethink. This new report produced by Delta will be sent directly to the dissenting mayors, and the Mayor of Delta outlined the information she felt that the Mayor of Richmond was erroneously talking about.You can access Delta’s agenda here and watch the video. Unfortunately a copy of Delta’s new pro bridge report is not attached for the public.

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Proposed Steveston Overpass

Delta Mayor Jackson at the end of the Council meeting stated that building more roadway lanes on the bridge will not create more traffic, that transit will be improved by faster service over the bridge, and that there will be zero net loss of farmland, that farmers could farm below the raised interchanges.There would be reduced congestion for farm vehicles, better land drainage and since 60 per cent of the traffic went to Richmond, there would be no bottlenecking at the Oak Street Bridge. Ten lanes not eight lanes were needed on the bridge to accommodate bicycles and slow-moving vehicles. The bridge was not replacing the tunnel due to navigational needs of Port Metro Vancouver. There is a million hours of idling a year at the tunnel, and it is an environmental improvement to have a bridge for immediate access. Lastly, the Mayor pointed out that there was lots of public process and there was no need for a Federal environmental review as the Provincial review was comprehensive enough. A bridge would also reduce the collision rate by 35 per cent, and save many lives.

The perspectives of the Mayor of Delta and the Mayor of Richmond, both people deeply engaged and passionate about their municipalities are markedly different. One assumes that vehicular travel will remain a constant, the other is siding with other metro municipalities in asking to consider changes in travel patterns, technology, location of this bridge, and also the place of transit. Both feel they have the right approach. But is the 21st century really about building billion dollar highway infrastructure on river delta floodplain that is environmentally sensitive? If it is overbuilt and not well used, we’ll be paying for it in many ways for a very very long time.