$40 million upgrade of George Massey Tunnel underway

May 15 2020, 11:15 am

Some interim safety improvements ahead of a full replacement are being made to the George Massey Tunnel.

The provincial government says installation is underway to replace the existing lights on the tunnel walls and ceiling into an LED standard to increase visibility and reduce energy use.

Other upgrades include the ventilation and electrical systems, and tunnel drainage to prevent ice build-up and water from pooling at tunnel entrances.

This amounts to about half of the $40-million interim project to improve safety and reliability for the crossing, which was first announced in 2018.

Most of the work will be performed at night, and the project is anticipated to reach completion by Spring 2021.

Earlier this year, after receiving feedback from regional mayors, the provincial government announced it is weighing its options for a new eight-lane crossing as either an immersed-tube tunnel or a long-span suspension bridge.

Planning is underway, with the business case for the revised project set to be ready this fall.

“We continue to move ahead with our work to replace the George Massey Tunnel, but in the meantime, we are making immediate safety improvements inside the tunnel for drivers who use this route every day,” said Claire Trevena, BC Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, in a statement.

george massey tunnel bridge replacement 2019

2019 artistic rendering of the new eight-lane bridge concept for the George Massey Tunnel replacement. (Government of BC)

George Massey Tunnel

Highly preliminary conceptual artistic rendering of an immersed-tube tunnel replacement for the George Massey Tunnel. (Government of BC)

There is no specific timeline for the replacement of the existing four-lane immersed tunnel built in 1959, but the provincial government previously indicated it was aiming for the end of this decade.

The cancelled project for a 10-lane replacement bridge, 24 km of Highway 99 improvements, and rebuilt highway interchanges had a budget of $3.5 billion. Construction was set to begin in 2017 for an opening in 2022.