Stephen Rees's blog

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

Guest Post: There is no bridge design

with one comment

proposed-george-massey-bridge-artist-rendering

Susan Jones, of Fraser Voices has sent this letter to NDP MLAs with copies to the press. She has also given permission for it to be posted to social media

Thank you for canceling construction of the bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel.  The media are erroneously reporting that the technical work has been done on the planned bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel.  In fact the numerous documents posted by the B.C. Liberal Government are mainly literature compilations and descriptive information.

There is no bridge design.  There is only a preliminary, conceptual plan for the bridge.  The six geotechnical reports are mainly a collection of available information.  The Geotechnical Data Report, posted February, 2017, contains test-hole data and laboratory investigations which do not include “project design requirements” and “cannot guarantee or warranty that the geotechnical information obtained is sufficient to fully satisfy the project objectives or requirements.”[i]

There is no evidence that a bridge can be safely constructed at this location. Without data and evidence, it is not possible to calculate the cost of the bridge.  In fact, evidence collected to date confirms that the soils in location of the planned bridge are liquefiable sand and silt to great depths.  Any bridge supports would need to be deep pile foundations.  It they can be built at all, they would be exorbitantly expensive due to depth requirements and massive lateral structures.

The geotechnical information available to the public is accompanied by a disqualifier:

The contents of this memorandum are not sufficient nor detailed enough for the final design, and should not be relied upon for the final design, for bidding purposes or for construction.”[ii]  

Yet the B.C. Liberals were planning to award contracts in the summer of 2017.

The option of upgrading the existing tunnel and sinking a second tube was not credibly pursued by the B.C. Liberals.  In April, 2013, Tunnel Engineering Consultations (TEC) from the Netherlands came to consult with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation.[iii]  No written report of this consultation has been provided to the public in spite of Freedom of Information requests.  It appears the BC Government did not request formal input.  I suggest the B.C. Government contact TEC and request further consultation.

Thank you again for planning to review the project.  Unfortunately, it is politically difficult as the tunnel congestion is a controversial issue that needs to be addressed effectively.

Sincerely,

Susan Jones

References:

[i] February 9, 2017:  GEOTECHNICAL DATA REPORT – OAK STREET BRIDGE TO LADNER TRUNK ROAD George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, Scrolled page 3/324

https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/52/2017/04/Technical-Background-Geotech-1.pdf

 

[ii] February 9, 2017:  GEOTECHNICAL DATA REPORT – OAK STREET BRIDGE TO LADNER TRUNK ROAD George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, Scrolled page 203/324

https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/52/2017/04/Technical-Background-Geotech-1.pdf

[iii] Planning Chronology for Massey Tunnel Replacement, Fact Sheet B.C. Government News, Sept. 13, 2016

https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/planning-chronology-for-massey-tunnel-replacement

 

 

cc:       B.C. Government NDP MLAs

Mayor and Council, City of Richmond

Mayor and Council, Corporation of Delta

Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Province

Delta Optimist

Richmond News

Surrey Leader Now

Peace Arch News

CityHallWatch

Written by Stephen Rees

September 13, 2017 at 8:53 am

One Response

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  1. Kudos to Susan Jones.

    It’s true that most geotechnical assessments will provide specifications for structural foundations based on their findings, and it is unusual not to, unless it is only a preliminary investigation that requires more boring/drilling and assessment. I haven’t read any of the reports, but my assumption is that the reports also did not state clearly whether the bridge can or cannot be supported by the soils, which is also unusual and leads me to wonder whether more investigation is required.

    A tunnel lays flat and its weight is distributed over the entire bottom surface. The bottom slab could be extended beyond the edges of the tunnel to increase the surface area and therein distribute the weight over even more area. Seismic reinforcement of the joints and flooding via the entry portals will probably garner more attention than the potential to sink into the Jell-O.

    No one seems to be addressing the long-term planning required to mitigate sea level rise. If mean sea level increases by more than a metre by year 2100, which may be at the low end of the latest estimates, than why are we even considering a bridge or a tunnel? Why are low-lying communities like Richmond and Delta considering more development? Regional and provincial planning authorities need to start the process to address this before neighbourhoods are forced to build arks? What can we do to save the rare soil resource of the Fraser valley and delta?

    Alex Botta

    September 13, 2017 at 10:53 am


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