10/09/2013 09:55 EDT | Updated 12/09/2013 05:12 EST

Massey Bridge 'short-sighted' without transit, carpooling

A new report from Metro Vancouver is warning that replacing the George Massey Tunnel with a new 10-lane bridge could mean more traffic and poorer air quality.

The report from senior planner Ray Kan says that vision goes against agreed-upon goals for the region because it will encourage people to drive more, and switch from transit to single-occupancy vehicles.

The document calls that "short sighted," saying the bridge will likely lead to more congestion, unless the province does something to discourage driving.

"An expanded facility without additional complementary measure to discourage single-occupant vehicles and to encourage carpooling, transit and cycling would indeed be deficient and short-sighted. Unfettered access could easily result in a congested facility. Further, an expanded facility may simply move the 'bottleneck' further downstream or upstream," said the report.

The region's Transportation Committee will be hearing from the senior planner about the project this morning.

Transportation minister defends bridge

But Transportation Minister Todd Stone defends the bridge plan, saying it will fix the worst choke-point in the region.

"You talk to people south of the Fraser, and they'll tell you this replacement for the George Massey is long overdue."

He also says the new bridge will mean more room for rapid transit on Highway 99, although there's no specific commitment from his ministry to make that happen yet.

"Any suggestion that we're out of sync with regional planning is simply not true. What we've demonstrated a track record of doing in the last 12 years is investing strategically in choke-points around the Lower Mainland in both our transit and our transportation network," said Stone.

Premier Christy Clark made the surprise announcement about the new mega-project last month.

Clark hasn't said how much the 10-lane bridge will cost, or whether there will be tolls, but promised construction will start in 2017.