Richmond opposes George Massey Tunnel plan 0
Richmond city council is writing the B.C. Ministry of Transportation to oppose a proposal to build a new bridge through agricultural land to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel. (PHOTO B.C. MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION)
Richmond city council is urging the province to drop a proposal to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel with a new crossing that would cut through the municipality’s farmland.
The B.C. Ministry of Transportation released a report Monday outlining five scenarios for the future of the tunnel that connects Richmond and Delta.
But Richmond city council passed a motion later that evening opposing one plan calling for a new bridge to be built along No. 8 Road, an agricultural area in between the Massey tunnel and the Alex Fraser Bridge.
Mayor Malcolm Brodie said he’s still examining the four other proposals, including plans to build a bridge over the tunnel. But for now, his city will be writing the B.C. Ministry of Transportation to caution against a crossing at No. 8 Road due to negative impacts on farmland.
Richmond Coun. Harold Steves said none of the five options are ideal for his city since it would cost a considerable amount and serve mostly the commercial traffic coming and going from the Deltaport terminal.
“If we decide the land should stay as agricultural land to feed ourselves,” he said, “then all we need is a (light-rail transit system) and that would serve the residential population.”
Simon Fraser University urban planning expert Gord Price questioned why transit wasn’t even listed among the scenarios included in Monday’s report.
He added the government should have waited to see what impacts the South Fraser Perimeter Road will have on the region before moving forward with plans for replacing the Massey tunnel.
Pursuing megaprojects like the SFRP or Massey tunnel replacements only feeds commuters’ over-reliance on vehicles and in turn creates more demand for additional infrastructure to relieve congestion in the decades to come, according to Price.
Transportation Minister Mary Polak acknowledged rapid transit would do much to alleviate congestion in the Massey tunnel, but she said the vast majority of traffic is caused by commercial vehicles.
Furthermore, the minister added consultations for replacing the tunnel before the SFRP is completed makes sense since both projects fit together as a part of a network.