NEWS

George Massey Tunnel replacement bridge raises concerns for Richmond

07/27/2015 07:12 EDT | Updated 07/27/2016 05:59 EDT
The mayor of Richmond is raising concerns about a new 10-lane bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel along Highway 99.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie says many questions about the proposed structure remain unanswered by the province.

The provincial government announced its plan to replace the heavily congested 60-year-old tunnel between Richmond and Delta in 2013. Construction of the bridge is slated to begin in 2017.

However, Brodie says the city has received only "the most basic information" about the bridge project so far.

"It all sounds very good — boy, you're going to have this brand new bridge and it's going to solve all your problems, it's a real panacea," Brodie told On the Coast's Stephen Quinn.

"But in the most basic sense, what's the bridge going to look like, and how's it going to sit in with the regional growth strategy, how's it going to fit in with our official community plan, how's it going to impact on this route and other routes, how much farmland is going to be impacted because this is going to be a gigantic bridge ... how does it fit into the big picture and does it make sense? We don't know the answer to those questions."

Richmond council is expected to discuss its concerns about the project Monday night.

When it was announced in 2013, Premier Christy Clark acknowledged that congestion at the Massey Tunnel is frustrating for families and stalls the economy. A new bridge will improve travel times for transit, commuters and commercial users, and open the corridor to future rapid transit options, she said.

Brodie says he suspects the proposed bridge  is probably more about easing the movement of goods than it is about a road project. He also believes congestion will remain on parts of Highway 99 even if the bridge is constructed, particularly as people head north on the Oak Street bridge toward Vancouver.

"To me, by getting people and their cars more quickly over this new bridge traveling northbound, all you're going to do is get to the congestion sooner," Brodie said.

"I just don't see it as the panacea that the province would paint."

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