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In a move that will not surprise Minister of Transportation Todd Stone has come out in favour of the Mayor of Delta’s missive to the other Mayors in the region that the Massey Tunnel needs to be replaced for safety reasons.

Now no one is going to argue with the safety of our first responders who do an amazing and selfless job.  And Minster Stone notes: I want to thank Delta fire and emergency Chief Dan Copeland, Delta Chief of police Neil Dubord and all Delta first responders for the work they do, day in and day out, as they deal with emergency situations at the George Massey Tunnel.

But wait for it-then Minister Stone reiterates his rationale why a 10 lane 3.5 billion dollar bridge needs to be built on agricultural class 1 farmland floodplain at this location-and he’s expanding that safety card. “The 10-lane bridge will be safer for motorists, safer and more accessible for first responders, and safer in the event of an earthquake.Their recent report to council highlights one of the main reasons we’re moving ahead with the replacement of the tunnel – the safety of the travelling public who use this crossing every day. The safety of motorists on our highways is my ministry’s number one priority, and it’s clear that a new bridge to replace the tunnel will improve safety for the 80,000 motorists who travel this corridor.”

And as a salvo to all the other mayors and Metro Vancouver and pretty much everyone that  is questioning the location and rationale for this multi-billion dollar bridge at this location, the Minister responds: The new bridge will be built to modern seismic standards to provide a lifeline connection across the Fraser River, replacing the seismically vulnerable tunnel. As well, Highway 99 will be upgraded to modern engineering standards to increase safety for drivers and for communities along the route. This includes longer merge lanes, wider travel lanes, improved sightlines and increased vertical clearances at overpasses”.

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Just in case there is any doubt, the Province is now saying that twinning the tunnel would be more expensive than building the new bridge. So there is a new reason to add to the others about why a less intrusive approach is not being taken. Apparently a new tunnel  would also have  more detrimental environmental consequences on land and the Fraser River too.

This multi billion dollar bridge is the Provincially driven train that no reason or rationale from the region or  the region’s mayors can stop. The project commences in 2017.