18 bridge and tunnel options considered for George Massey crossing project

Jun 21 2019, 1:44 am

As it turns out, the provincial government is considering a total of 18 bridge and tunnel configuration options and combinations for the eventual project to provide the ageing George Massey Tunnel with a fix.

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This was revealed in a Metro Vancouver Regional District staff report for an upcoming meeting later this month that attached documents from the BC Ministry of Transportation, dated June 12, 2019, highlighting the long list of options and technical considerations.

Six of the options retain and retrofit the existing 1959-built, four-lane tunnel, with combinations including a new four-lane or six-lane bridge or tunnel addition and the use of the existing tunnel for public transit or local traffic.

The remaining 12 options focus on a new six-lane, seven-lane, or eight-lane bridge or tunnel, with some options incorporating counterflow and a peak direction-only transit lane.

New tunnel options include immersed tube tunnel methodology — similar to the existing tunnel on the bed of the Fraser River — and a bored tunnel.

All options include cycling and walking paths.

However, the cancelled 10-lane bridge, as planned by the previous provincial government at a cost of $3.5 billion, was not included. Here is the provincial government’s full list of options:

6 options that incorporate existing tunnel:

  1. New four-lane bridge; keep existing four-lane tunnel (all GP lanes)
  2. New four-lane deep bored tunnel; keep existing four-lane tunnel (all GP lanes)
  3. New four-lane immersed tube tunnel; keep existing four-lane tunnel (all GP lanes)
  4. New six-lane bridge (all GP lanes); keep existing tunnel for transit or local traffic
  5. New six-lane deep bored tunnel (all GP lanes); keep existing tunnel for transit or local traffic
  6. New six-lane immersed tube tunnel (all GP lanes); keep existing tunnel for transit or local traffic

12 options without the existing tunnel:

  1. New six-lane bridge (all GP lanes); with counterflow
  2. New six-lane deep bored tunnel (all GP lanes); with counterflow
  3. New six-lane immersed tube tunnel (all GP lanes); with counterflow
  4. New six-lane bridge (all GP lanes); without counterflow
  5. New six-lane deep bored tunnel (all GP lanes); without counterflow
  6. New six-lane immersed tube tunnel (all GP lanes); without counterflow
  7. New seven-lane crossing; with counterflow (assume all GP but consider a peak direction-only transit lane)
  8. New seven-lane deep bored tunnel; with counterflow (assume all GP but consider a peak direction-only transit lane)
  9. New seven-lane immersed tube tunnel; with counterflow (assume all GP but consider a peak direction-only transit lane)
  10. New eight-lane bridge; consider potential dedicated lanes
  11. New eight-lane deep bored tunnel; consider potential dedicated lanes
  12. New eight-lane immersed tube tunnel; consider potential dedicated lanes

The provincial government has noted that only six-lane to eight-lane options will be considered.

In an open letter released this past April, the mayors of five Metro Vancouver municipalities that are most affected by the George Massey Tunnel bottleneck stated their clear preference for an eight-lane tunnel to ensure the project meets the region’s needs through 2100. They also said there needs to be built-in capability for public transit, including local rail transit or even high-speed rail.

Since the mayors made their push, the provincial government has added the potential for future rail rapid transit — the ease of future lane dedication conversion — as a project goal.

On June 24, regional district staff will meet to provide input on the provincial government’s next step of creating a short list of options. After this next step, a preferred option will be identified, which would lead to the creation of a business case by Fall 2020.

The provincial government indicated to the mayors a new crossing may not be completed until as late as 2030; the mayors want the fix to be built no later than 2025 or 2026. The existing tunnel is a major regional bottleneck, and it is prone to structural failure during even a modest earthquake.

Artistic rendering of the cancelled 10-lane bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel. (Government of BC)

If the previous bridge project had not been cancelled by the BC NDP, construction on a new crossing would have begun in early-2018 for an estimated completion in 2023. The findings of an independent report released in December 2018 determined a 10-lane bridge would provide too much capacity.

“Regarding the concerns that have been expressed about the conclusions of the independent review, the most important finding was that the original project pushed the 10-lane bridge option without fully considering feasible alternatives or local opinions on the best path forward,” reads BC Transportation Minister Claire Trevana’s letter, dated May 14, 2019, in response to the letter from the mayors.

“The independent report also identified some options to consider. We are now engaging with the First Nations and the region to consider and select the best option for moving forward. Through this process, we fully anticipate that other options will be identified and reviewed.”

Artistic rendering of the cancelled 10-lane bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel. (Government of BC)

 

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