Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for February 19th, 2016

Fraser Voices

with 7 comments

That is the name that a small group, unified its opposition to megabridge Massey Tunnel replacement project chose for itself last night. The forces of No once again facing up to the deceptions of the Christy Clark government.

new-bridge

There are two contributions from that group this morning. The first is the GMTRP brief draft prepared by Nicholas Wong – a substantial document that may get some updating and, if it does, will get replaced by later versions over time. For now here is the first paragraph of the Executive Summary, which should convince you it is worth your time to read the whole thing: the brief deals only with the traffic, seismic, and pricing concerns and thus leaves a whole raft of issues unexamined

The GMTRP has been plagued by contradictory or absent information. In such an environment, it is impossible to form an educated opinion of the project. To explore the systematic nature of the political deception surrounding the bridge proposal, three broad areas were explored: traffic, seismic safety standards, and budgetary concerns. The conclusion being that removing the GMT is unnecessary and a poor economic choice to alleviate traffic congestion or to address any of the stated project goals. The only advantage to removing the GMT is to allow larger ships up the Fraser River indicating that the tolled crossing is designed as a subsidy for the export industry.

The second is the text of a report which was adopted by the Richmond Council General Purposes Committee last Monday and will go to Richmond Council for final vote this coming Monday.

To: Mayor and Council                                                            Date: February 10, 2016

From: Harold Steves                                                               File: 10-6350-05-08
Councillor

Re: George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project

Richmond Council is concerned about the abrupt change in direction from upgrading the George Massey Tunnel to building a bridge. Richmond Council was fully consulted on the publicly announced plan to twin the tunnel. Richmond Council was not consulted on the decision to change the plan to building a bridge.

The following attachments show how the project changed abruptly from a tunnel to a bridge:

1) July 15, 2004 Massey Tunnel seismic upgrade. Province to spend $22.2 million on seismic upgrade for the Massey Tunnel.

2) Feb. 16, 2006 Twinned tunnel part of Victoria’s long-term plan, “expandingHighway 99 on both sides of the tunnel from four lanes to six.”   “The project is on the back burner in part because it would put pressure on traffic bottlenecks to the north requiring expansion of the Oak Street and Knight Street bridges into Vancouver or a new bridge into Burnaby.

3) Feb. 18, 2006 Massey Tunnel will be twinned and “widened from four lanes to six once the provinces more pressing transportation projects are complete.”  “Twinning the tunnel would also require improvements to other crossings over the North Arm of the Fraser, such as Oak Street and Knight Street bridges, or a new crossing to connect with growing central Burnaby.”

4) Dec 11, 2008 BUS LANE WILL SPEED TRANSIT commute along Highway 99  with ” high quality, point to point service … between White Rock and Richmond. A “$4.7 million contract” was awarded “to build the four metre wide shoulder bus lane.

5) Feb. 2, 2012 “BC Government meets with Port Metro Vancouver, Surrey Fraser Docks and Engineers to plan George Massey Tunnel Replacement Bridge”

6) Nov. 19, 2012 “Clearances for potential new river crossing” “We should consider future terminals. For example liquid bulk tankers, with large air draft requirements(e.g. LNG)” ….. “We need to consider future terminals such as VAFFC, Lehigh, and possible terminal at our Richmond properties.”

7) Dec. 4, 2012 “Tunnel: Depth required is 15.5 metres below geodetic datum for 50 year life expectancy and 18.5 metres below for 100 year life expectancy.”

8) March 19, 2015 The 14 billion transit plan the BC Liberals conveniently forgot.

9) Nov. 5, 2015 Stone insists Massey bridge process is proper.

The Province spent $22.2 million on a seismic upgrade on the Massey Tunnel in 2004, announced the tunnel would be twinned in 2006, and announced rapid  bus in 2008. Studies were done that justified twinning the tunnel and improving public transit. It was noted that the carrying capacity of the Oak Street Bridge and other bridges was limited and therefore the tunnel should only be six lanes. Rapid Bus would reduce traffic and reduce GHG’s. Richmond Council was opposed to both a No. 8 Road Bridge to Delta and a bridge to Boundary Road in Burnaby because it would do irreparable damage to Richmond East farmland. The Rapid Bus system resolved that problem.

What caused the province to suddenly change from a tunnel with public transit to a bridge without it?
The FOI information from Doug Massey shows a concerted effort was made in 2012 by Fraser Surrey Docks and Port Metro Vancouver and others to have the tunnel removed to accommodate deep draft Panamex supertankers. The BC Government met with them to discuss tunnel removal on Feb 2, 2012, future terminals at VAFFC, Lehigh and a new one in Richmond, including liquid bulk tankers (e.g. LNG); and the need to dredge the river to 15.5 metres on Dec. 4, 2012.  Secondly the more conservative members in the Liberal Caucus appear to have gained control in the 2013 election.

On Nov 5, 2015 Todd Stone admitted that they did not yet have a business case for a bridge, Now the reason is clear. It appears that the  province changed their plans to permit the industrialization of the Fraser River by Port Metro Vancouver. They did not have a business plan for a bridge because the business case was for twinning the tunnel and providing Rapid Bus.

Recommendation:

That the City of Richmond request that the Provincial Government provide copies of all reports and studies – including but not limited to business plans, feasibility studies, technical studies, seismic studies, and/or environmental impact studies – that relate to the original plan to twin the George Massey Tunnel and/or provide Rapid Bus service that were considered during the period from 2006 to 2008; and that if necessary, that the foregoing request be made as an official Freedom of Information request.

The report attracted no attention at all from the Richmond News, but a great deal of media attention is being paid to the Metro Vancouver decision to ask for more time to consider the proposal

Written by Stephen Rees

February 19, 2016 at 11:24 am

Posted in Transportation