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Wed September 22 2021

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Canadian tunnel to get $4bn replacement

19 Aug The Canadian province of British Columbia is to build an immersed-tube replacement for the George Massey Tunnel.

The tunnel is scheduled to come into use in 2030, with the cost estimated at CA$4.15bn (£2.4bn).

The new eight-lane replacement of the tunnel on Highway 99 will provide a toll-free crossing that will also improve transit, cycling and walking connections across the Fraser River.

Two of the eight lanes will be dedicated for bus rapid transit, and there will be separated pathways for cyclists and pedestrians.

“A new crossing to replace the George Massey Tunnel will improve traffic flow and make travel by transit, walking and cycling more convenient and attractive, without costing commuters hundreds of dollars a year in unfair tolls,” said Rob Fleming, minister of transportation and infrastructure. “We’ve worked hard to make sure this is the right project for the region, and along with the other Highway 99 improvements getting under way, we’re getting people moving around in the region.”

The province has already started work to reduce traffic congestion by launching projects to improve transit and cycling infrastructure along the Highway 99 corridor and replace the Steveston Interchange.

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“This new crossing will ensure a strong and reliable connection along one of British Columbia’s most important trade corridors, while also providing people and families with more choices about how they travel in their day-to-day lives,” said Bowinn Ma, minister of state for infrastructure. “Dedicated transit lanes and fully separated active transportation pathways are an exciting addition that will give more people safe and competitive alternatives to travelling by car.”

Two options were presented in the business case – an eight-lane tunnel and eight-lane bridge. The tunnel was chosen as the best option, because it:

  • best meets regional vision/interests, as endorsed by the Metro Vancouver Board; 
  • limits any new visual, noise, shading and lighting impacts over the life of the structure;
  • has the fewest impacts to agricultural land and will not introduce new navigational restrictions to the Fraser River;
  • allows for work to start immediately on the bottleneck areas of the Highway 99 corridor;
  • best facilitates the movement of trucks and cyclists with a much lower overall elevation change; and
  • provides protection from inclement weather for everyone who uses this crossing.

The next step is to initiate the environmental assessment process, including ongoing engagement with Indigenous peoples and preparing for procurement.  

Transportation Investment Corporation will lead the tunnel’s delivery on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, and will also provide controls and other oversight.

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