A much-awaited independent report on the future of the George Massey Tunnel and possible options that could replace the aging crossing will be released on Monday morning.
Last year, shortly after a decision was made to suspend the $3.5-billion, 10-lane project, the BC NDP provincial government commissioned Stan Cowdell of Westmar Advisors to produce a review of the new bridge planned by the previous government.
At the time, a major construction contractor was just weeks away from being awarded, and about $100 million had already been spent on planning, procurement, and pre-construction work. Construction was originally slated to begin in early-2018 for a completion in 2023.
The provincial government received the technical report from its authors in June.
Currently, it is not known what direction the provincial government will take, if any. However, during the 2017 provincial election, the BC NDP expressed its ambivalence towards the BC Liberals’ mega project, while the BC Greens wanted an outright cancellation. The BC Liberals have maintained their support for the bridge.
But the unusually lengthy six-month delay between receiving the report and releasing the report’s details to the public could possibly be an indication that the report’s findings favoured a new bridge to replace the existing tunnel.
According to 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 — $900 million lower than the Ministry of Transportation’s initial estimate.
The City of Delta has been at odds with the City of Richmond over the matter of the crossing in recent years; the former wants a new high-capacity bridge, while the latter wants a twinned tunnel that utilizes the existing tunnel.
With an average of 80,000 vehicles per day, the existing 1959-built, four-lane tunnel is one of Metro Vancouver’s most severe bottlenecks.
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