The $3 billion hoodwink: George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project

MetroVanWatch has received this letter from Peter van der Velden, a facilities management consultant living in Tsawwassen. At the bottom, we add links to media, video, and references on the George Massey Tunnel and this proposed replacement project.Gov BC image of bridge replacing George Massey Tunnel, from YouTube

The $3 billion hoodwink
(text by Peter van der Velden, August 2014)

The Provincial Government asked the public for input on replacement of the Massey Tunnel. The result of this consultation and final report is an eight lane bridge. The value of this bridge is marginalized by manipulation of the public input. The real reason for the choice of a bridge appears to be dictated by Port Metro Vancouver’s need to get bigger ships up the Fraser River.

Biased process

A number of options were presented to the public. Several of these options were presented so that it was almost a given what would be chosen.

One of those options was the retention of the tunnel. As presented this option had no additional means of obtaining the desired results to “support objectives for regional people movement”, to “relieve congestion” or to “improve safety”. As a result, retaining the tunnel was not heavily supported by the public. This is not a surprise as this is exactly what the process was meant to do; pave the way for the removal of the tunnel.

Replacement not justified: Many years left in tunnel life.

This tunnel will be useful for many more years, a point proven by a similar tunnel in Rotterdam (the Netherlands). So why dismantle it? If we add the additional tunnel or bridge components necessary for public transport to take traffic off the road, the tunnel will remain effective. This will cost a fraction of the current proposal and will better achieve the desired goals set out by both Government and the public.
The second option to have the bridge “placed in a different location” was equally set up to fail. The new location merely rerouted traffic back to Highway 99 and the Oak Street corridor. This option served neither of the two objectives to “relieve congestion” nor to apply “a visionary long term solution”.

People movement problem

The report allows that “most of the traffic through the tunnel goes to Richmond”. What the numbers fail to factor in is the growth from border traffic and from the “Urban Sprawl” that will be created by a large bridge. Building the bridge will encourage residential and industrial development South of the Fraser. This will put more traffic on the road, not less. This development will also put more pressure on our dwindling farmlands. With less farmland we will need more produce shipped in, putting more trucks on the road. The dismantling of the tunnel will allow more shipping through, creating more truck traffic. All of this will only add to the “people movement” problem.

This means that this bridge will soon create a need for an additional traffic corridor to deal with this future growth. Therefore, this bridge is not a “visionary long term solution”. A long term solution can not be reached by putting more cars on the road and adding traffic to the Oak Street corridor. If a bridge is chosen, it should be smaller, augment the tunnel, be placed in a different location and handle public transportation. This would be far more economical, effective and “visionary”.

Traffic corridor nightmare scenario

More importantly, building the bridge where the tunnel is will turn this major traffic corridor into a nightmare for a period of 3-5 years (judging by the Alex Fraser Bridge and the #1 highway upgrades). This will not only affect Delta residents. It will affect South Surrey residents, tourism, ferry traffic and truck and commercial traffic. For some strange reason this does not appear to be a major consideration.

Port Metro power grab

The less discussed and more contentious issue to BC residents is the expansion of the Federal entity, Port Metro, and its need to remove the tunnel to allow larger ships up the Fraser. At the public consultation sessions no mention was made of the issue to “support trade and commerce”. These consultations were strictly focused on traffic logistics and infrastructure. How then did ‘transportation alternatives’ get rated lower than ‘Economic Growth’ in the final report?

Certainly ‘Economic growth’ is important. However, if the desire to remove the tunnel and build a bridge is strictly for the benefit of Port Metro, then why are we paying the cost? Port Metro’s requirements should not be confused with the issue of transportation infrastructure.

Cost too high

At $3 billion the cost of this undertaking is a serious issue. This amount of money could be spent more effectively to serve the “objectives for regional people movement”. And, this price is being given to you by the same people who missed the South Fraser Perimeter Road budget by more than 100%. How much will this project really cost?


Lastly, a Media Freedom of Information request for the “business case for replacing the Massey Tunnel” turned up a 14 page response that is “almost entirely whited out” due among other things to “disclosures harmful to the financial interests of public bodies”.


With this amount of money going into the project, it is doubtful that any money will be available to deal with the real issues to “support objectives for regional people movement” or to “relieve congestion”. That cost will be handed down to you in a separate tax on top of the cost for this project. All of BC will pay if this project is allowed to go ahead. Not just those who took their time to respond to this issue.

Peter van der Velden, Facilities Management Consultant, Tsawwassen
August 6, 2014


His blog, Connecting Delta, is here



If you have an opinion on this topic, write your MLA (use this official MLA finder), the ministry of transport (, Premier Christy Clark ( or get to your local rep on the Board of Metro Vancouver (municipality links here, Metro director list here). They (with the exception of Delta Mayor Lois Jackson) are reportedly united in their desire to have this bridge plan undone.


George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project (official government website)

Animated flyover showing virtual future bridge, created and paid for by the BC Provincial Government

Video: Historical video – The Building of the George Massey Tunnel (BC Ministry of Transport)
Part 1

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Official government announcement of plans to replace Massey Tunnel (PDF download, 20-Sept-2013)

Excerpt: B.C. moves forward with bridge to replace Massey Tunnel
VANCOUVER – Today, Premier Christy Clark announced that the Government of British
Columbia will move ahead on the project to replace the George Massey Tunnel, with
construction of a new bridge on the existing Highway 99 corridor to begin in 2017.
“We are keeping our promise to replace the George Massey Tunnel and improve the Highway 99 corridor, starting in 2017,” said Premier Christy Clark. “Congestion at the tunnel is frustrating  for families and stalling the economy. A new bridge will improve travel times for transit, commuters and commercial users, and open the corridor up to future rapid transit options.” The first step in the project was to consult with the public and stakeholders about support for a  new crossing and on crossing options….


Tolled bridge to replace George Massey Tunnel best option for managing traffic flow: TransLink report (Untolled bridge would attract too much traffic to make it efficient, research determines) (article by Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun, 10-March-2014)

Aging Massey Tunnel to be replaced by bridge
(by The Canadian Press, 20-Sep-2013)



Excerpt: The George Massey Tunnel (often referred to simply as the Massey Tunnel) is a highway traffic tunnel in the Metro Vancouver region of southwestern British Columbia. It is located approximately 20 km (12 mi) south of the city centre of Vancouver, British Columbia, and approximately 30 km (20 mi) north of the Canada-U.S. Border at Blaine, Washington. 

Construction, costing approximately $25 million, began on the tunnel in March 1957, and it was opened to traffic on May 23, 1959,[2] as the Deas Island Tunnel. Queen Elizabeth II attended the official opening ceremony of the tunnel on July 15, 1959. It carries a four lane divided highway under the south arm of the Fraser River estuary, joining the City of Richmond to the north with the Corporation of Delta (a municipality) to the south. It is the only road tunnel below sea level in Canada, making its roadway the lowest road surface in Canada.

PERSONAL VIDEOS — of drives through the tunnel as it is now


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4 Responses to The $3 billion hoodwink: George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project

  1. mccapm says:

    Good information. Best line:
    “The value of this bridge is marginalized by manipulation of the public input.”
    The value of this [INSERT PROJECT] is marginalized by manipulation of the public input.

  2. Pingback: Could the Massey Bridge be Metro Vancouver’s Keystone? | Price Tags

  3. Real has created a public commenting campaign for the Massey Tunnel Replacement Project at

    The BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has invited the public to voice their concerns about plans to replace the Massey Tunnel with a bridge over the Fraser River. The EAO will use your input to determine what issues should be addressed in the environmental assessment for this project.

    This is an important opportunity to raise key issues about this project, including:

    – Does the tunnel really need to be replaced? What are the other options?
    – Who should pay for this new bridge? Industrial users of the Fraser River? The Port Authority? BC taxpayers?
    – What impact will a new bridge have on traffic and urban development?
    -What impact will a new bridge have on fossil fuel exports on the Fraser River?

    You can learn more about these key issues on the website and you can use our form to send your comments to the BC government. We’ll copy your concerns to the following elected representatives at the local, provincial and federal level to keep them aware of the importance of this issue.

    Delta Mayor and Council
    Richmond Mayor and Council
    New Westminster Mayor and Council
    Surrey Mayor and Council
    Delta MLAs and MPs
    Richmond MLAs and MPs

    BC Premier Christy Clark
    BC Environment Minister Mary Polak
    BC NDP Leader John Horgan
    BC NDP Environment Critic Spencer Chandra Herbert
    BC Green Party MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head Andrew Weaver

    Prime Minister of Canada – Justin Trudeau
    Leader of the Green Party – Elizabeth May
    Leader of the New Democratic Party – Tom Mulcair
    Interim Leader of the Conservative Party – Rona Ambrose
    Minister of the Environment & Climate Change – Catherine McKenna
    Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness – Ralph Goodale
    Minister of Innovation, Science & Economic Development – Navdeep Bains
    Minister of Fisheries and Oceans – Hunter Tootoo
    Minister of Infrastructure and Communities – Amarjeet Sohi
    Minister of Transportation – Marc Garneau


    Eoghan for Real

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