EDITORIAL: Don’t put tunnel plans back on shelf
The provincial government this week released it’s five options to replace the aging and woefully inadequate George Massey Tunnel. The options ranged from new crossings both over and under the Fraser River, to doing nothing at all.
Given the age of the tunnel, it’s seismic safety issues, and the bottleneck it creates, doing nothing is not an option.
The George Massey Tunnel needs to go, and the residents of South Delta need something better in its place, prefferably an option that includes mass transit.
Metro Vancouver projects Delta’s population to grow by 30 per cent over the next 30 years. The growth elsewhere south of the Fraser River will be even greater, with Surrey and White Rock expected to grow by more than 75 per cent over that span.
New residents means new commuters, and as anyone who has spent countless hours stuck in tunnel gridlock knows, the current Highway 99 crossing is not good enough.
According to the Ministry of Transportation, tunnel traffic costs the Metro Vancouver economy close to $70 million annually, and that number is only climbing higher.
It should never have gotten this bad, however. This problem has been well-known for years.
Just about every political party has failed South Delta when it comes to the George Massey Tunney.
In the early 1990s, the Social Credit government of the day commissioned a report that came up with five options almost identical to the five proposed this week.
In 1995, the NDP government hired consultants to look at new crossings on the Fraser River, with the preferred option being the expansion of the tunnel and Oak Street bridge.
Again, those plans were all but ignored.
The Liberals’ “H99” concept, called for the twinning of the tunnel 10 years ago in 2003. But that too was put on the back-burner, as the $3.3-billion Gateway Program was given priority.
As we saw last week, the issue of the tunnel replacement is being used as a political football in the upcoming provincial election. But all political parties have a share of the blame for bringing us to this point.
It is now up to the local candidates to support one of the five options, and follow through on their commitment should they get elected.
Regardless of which party wins the upcoming provincial election, the need for a new crossing will remain. The plan to replace the tunnel can’t be put on the shelf the second the election is over, as has happened so many times before.