The George Massey tunnel is considered B.C.’s worst traffic congestion point, and unable to withstand a major earthquake. (Black Press file photo)

The George Massey tunnel is considered B.C.’s worst traffic congestion point, and unable to withstand a major earthquake. (Black Press file photo)

George Massey Tunnel replacement could have been cheaper than expected

Delta staff report says the bridge could have been built for nearly $1 billion less than projected

A bridge to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel could be significantly cheaper than projected, according to a recently-released City of Delta report.

Since the previous report to council in October 2017, new cost projections have come to light. In October, the estimated cost for a replacement ranged from $3.5 billion for a replacement bridge to $5.8 million for maintaining the existing tunnel and building a new bridge in another area.

However, according to a Delta staff report dated Feb. 21, 2018, the lowest bid for bridge construction came in at $2.6 billion — nearly $1 billion lower than the expected cost.

“Unlike the Patullo project which is only part-way through the environmental assessment process, the tunnel replacement project is shovel-ready,” the report reads. “[It] has received its environmental assessment certificate and has completed the bidding process.”

The George Massey Tunnel replacement project has been on hiatus since the NDP government took over from the B.C. Liberals last year.

RELATED: B.C. pauses Massey bridge work to conduct new review

In September, 2017, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced an independent technical review of the project, saying previous reviews by the Liberal government may not have looked at all possibilities.

About $70 million had already been spent on the $3.5 billion new crossing, including funds allocated to the building of a new counterflow lane on the Alex Fraser Bridge to help relieve congestion in the area while the project’s plan is sorted. Work on the counterflow lane began in early December and is expected to be complete in the fall.

READ MORE: Work begins on Alex Fraser Bridge counterflow lane

The technical review of the Massey replacement project got underway with engineer Stan Codwell in November of last year. The review is intended to look at the lifespan, safety, seismic vulnerability and current congestion of the tunnel, as well as the technical information already produced for the replacement project.

Results from that review are expected in the coming months.

— with files from Ashley Wadhwani and James Smith



grace.kennedy@northdeltareporter.com

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