It appears the project to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel with a new 10-lane suspension bridge could be accomplished with a significantly lower budget – nearly a billion dollars lower.
According to a recent report by the City of Delta, the provincial government’s RFP process for the bridge’s major construction contract attracted a bid as low as $2.6 billion, which is $900 million lower than the Ministry of Transportation’s initial $3.5 billion estimate.
Construction was set to begin last fall following the selection of a contractor, but the new provincial government led by the BC NDP decided to put the project on hold and conduct an independent review.
Delta also claims about $100 million has already been spent on the project, including $40 million by the provincial government on technical studies and assessments, and another $20 million from each of the three private bidders on the project.
The $3.5 billion cost accounts for the new bridge structure, a widening of Highway 99 on either side of the bridge for a combined distance of 24 km, three new highway interchanges, bus transit infrastructure, and the demolition of the 1959-built, four-lane tunnel.
Earlier this year, Premier John Horgan said the government will release its policy statement outlining alternative options including potential cancellation.
Both Horgan and BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver, who is staunchly opposed to the project, have repeatedly said their transportation investments in Metro Vancouver will align with the Mayors’ Council’s approved plan, which does not include the Massey project.
The debate over whether to build the bridge has also put two municipalities across the river against each other, with Richmond desiring an upgraded and twinned tunnel and Delta asserting a new bridge, as proposed by the previous provincial government, is the only long-term, seismic-resilient solution.