Ground was officially broken Thursday morning (July 7) on the new five-lane Steveston interchange, the latest in a series of improvements along the Highway 99 corridor in preparation for replacing the aging George Massey Tunnel.
The new interchange, which replace the existing two-lane overpass at Steveston Highway and Highway 99 with a five-lave structure that accommodates two eastbound lanes and three westbound lanes (including a left-turn lane) will improve public transit, shorten travel times for drivers, and improve active transportation connections, according to a government press release.
“It’s an important day as we move forward on addressing one of the worst bottlenecks in Richmond,” Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming said in a press release. “I look forward to work getting underway that will improve connections for transit users, drivers and cyclists, and tie in to the new eight-lane toll-free tunnel that will replace the George Massey Tunnel.”
In addition to reducing congestion on Steveston Highway and improving connections to and from Highway 99, the new interchange will also improve access to transit stops and provide safe pedestrian and cycling connections across Highway 99, with sidewalks and separated bike lanes on both sides of the overpass.
“The Steveston Highway interchange project is an important infrastructure upgrade and a critical component of the overall Highway 99 improvements, which will ultimately improve the lives of those in Richmond and commuters through the corridor,” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said in a press release.
“The Steveston overpass and interchange design, including three extra lanes along with dedicated pedestrian and cycling paths on both sides of the twinning overpass, will improve safety and increase efficiency in moving business and commuter traffic, while reducing congestion and vehicle emissions.”
Work is expected to ramp up at the site this summer, with clearing and utility relocation getting underway in the coming weeks. Major construction will begin this year, with the new interchange expected to be in operation in 2025.
Other Highway 99 improvements as part of the lead up the Massey Tunnel’s replacement include new bus-on-shoulder lanes, a bus connection at Bridgeport Road in Richmond, and the widening of the northbound off-ramp at Highway 17A in Delta.
The new bus-on-shoulder lanes — southbound between Highway 17A and the Ladner Trunk Road off-ramp and northbound from Ladner Trunk Road to the existing start of the HOV lane — will eventually tie into the new tunnel to improve transit reliability along the corridor and are expected to be complete in the summer of 2023.
Construction of the Bridgeport Road bus connection began in February of this year, while the widening of the Highway 17A off-ramp began in March. Both are expected to be complete sometime this fall.
This part of the tunnel program includes the creation of a new multi-use pathway from the Oak Street Bridge into the Richmond cycling and pedestrian network, improvements to the bicycle shuttle pullout on Highway 17A, and improvements to cycling facilities along Highway 17A, including new ramp crossings and better connection into the existing network.
More information about the Highway 99 Tunnel Program can be found at highway99tunnel.ca.
Meanwhile, the province recently wrapped up the early engagement phase of environmental assessment process is underway for the proposed eight-lane tunnel to replace the George Massey Tunnel.
This first round of public feedback, held April 25 to June 9, was focused on learning how the populace wants to be engaged throughout the environmental assessment process and on identifying key interests and issues with the now-dubbed the Fraser River Tunnel Project’s design or location.
Feedback provided during this early engagement will be used to inform the planning and development of the project throughout all stages of the environmental assessment.
A summary of the early engagement, published July 11, as well as other details of the environmental assessment process, is available at projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/p/620aa098fd30c700220f2805/project-details.
The Environmental Assessment Office will hold three additional public consultation periods during future phases of the environmental assessment to seek input on more detailed information about the proposed project as it is developed.
The new crossing, which will be located immediately upstream of the existing tunnel, is expected to be operational by 2030 and cost an estimated $4.15 billion, which includes the cost of removing the current tunnel.
The immersed tube tunnel will be about one kilometre longer and three metres deeper than the existing tunnel to accommodate double-decker buses. Two of the eight lanes are to be dedicated for rapid bus transit, and there will be separated pathways for cyclists and pedestrians.
— with files from Aaron Hinks
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