Stephen Rees's blog

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

Massey Tunnel

with 6 comments

I think one of the biggest takeaways from this morning’s Government Announcement is that you should not summon the press to a briefing and stage an announcement when you have nothing to announce. The incoming NDP government was quick to announce the cancellation of the previous government’s massive new bridge proposal. They also appointed Stan Cowdell P Eng to conduct a review. He submitted a substantial report this summer and today there was a briefing for the press with a summary of that report. At the time of writing only the Province has anything of substance on that, though I expect more will be available once they all get back to their desks.

I wish that I had been wiser than to agree to go on the CBC call in program. At least there did seem to be more understanding of the need for transit. The point I was trying to get over was that after all this time just promising to have more consultations and a decision by the end of 2020 wasn’t enough. They could have had something to say if they had a greater commitment to transit. Claire Trevenna was able to talk about the immediate spending of $40m on the intersections at each end of the tunnel, improvements to lighting, signs and road surface. All things that highway engineers at MoTI care about. And there was a brief reference to Translink – but nothing of substance.

In the longer term the options are still more general purpose traffic lanes – instead of a 10 lane bridge, 6 or 8 lanes might be considered – or the same in new immersed tubes and possibly a different alignment. But consideration of transit was vague and ill defined – and according to The Province

The review also recommends that the province consider eliminating HOV or transit provisions at the bridge median in favour of lower-cost alternatives.

Which is not at all what I wanted to read!

There are double decker buses on order. Translink is increasing services in general. It has run into opposition in West Vancouver for a bus lane and cross municipal boundary B Line for the North Shore, and is scrambling to revise its work program to meet the changed priorities for Surrey – which also includes more rapid buses. It is a “feature” of our system that it is the region that will bear the brunt of increasing bus service – the MoTI has probably done most of what can be in the way of bus lanes along Highway #99. I will once again re-iterate that buses are now 1% of the vehicles but carry 26% of the people. It is a real shame that there wasn’t more said about what can be done to increase that market share in the very near future while we are waiting to find out how many more lanes MoTI engineers will get to build – which is all they care about!

(One thing that did occur to me was that no-one talked about the “need” to remove the tunnel identified by the Port!)

Here is the pdf of the complete review


Or you could go to the MoTI web page if you prefer

Written by Stephen Rees

December 17, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Transportation

6 Responses

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  1. BC liberals were proposing a tolled bridge integrating a state of art BRT, gentle slope to be bike friendly enough.

    The Green/NDP killed it, to replace it with an exclusively tax payer subsidized crossing which will have no transit facilities and will be very certainly much less bike friendly



    December 17, 2018 at 10:29 pm

  2. I think you may have the priorities wrong here. “Bike friendliness” cannot possibly make up for the damage 8 more GP traffic lanes would have wrought. And the report is pretty dismissive about the value “state of the art BRT” would have added to the existing priority measures that are “working well”.

    Stephen Rees

    December 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm

  3. It is difficult to term something as bike friendly when it was to be comprised of two MUP (sidewalks) without physical separation, having a 5% slope for approximately 1.5 km on the ascent and descent, with no consideration of design speed, and not including connections by the project team at either end of the span, for the scope of the project (Oak St to Hwy 91)

    Jeff Leigh

    December 18, 2018 at 10:01 pm

  4. the point is not to compare with the actual situation, but what is on the table,

    original BC lines 8 GT lanes + 2 bus lanes (LRT grade ready), vs the leaned Greens/NDP proposal, 8 GT lanes (no transit lane on the crossing itself, see section

    Sorry, that if anything, I prefer the original proposal, which was simply a much better one for transit, general congestion (due to road pricing) and possibly cycling.

    regarding the value of the BRT, I notice that Minneapolis is doing something similar for US$150M (24km freeway median bus lane station, US$5M each, dedicated transit ramp, US$12, ridership 14,000 so in ball pack of the the Hwy 99 transit)…so I could take the unsubstantiated claims of the Cowdell report with a grain of salt (it is saying pretty much every BRT in the world got it wrong by putting transit lane in the median…)…and if the Brunette interchange is an indication ($500M), most of the touted saving come from the scrapping of the over engineered Steveston interchange, not from the scrapping of 2 bus lanes.


    December 19, 2018 at 8:41 am

  5. The Christy Clark model was a 10-lane bridge deck that led to a 20+-lane interchange at Steveston and massive freeway building for less than 120,000 people a day (90,000 vehicles). Twenty lanes! The freeway widening would have impacted the Oak Street Bridge; you know, hip bone-thigh bone connectivity.

    What, this is Shanghai? Mexico City? Atlanta? No. It’s a low-population base surrounded by farm land and not nearly enough commercial / industrial traffic to fill two lanes beyond rush hours, let alone 10. The geometry of an additional tunnel makes tremendous sense, especially on limiting the consumption of land. The report clearly outlines these advantages.

    Alex Botta

    January 7, 2019 at 2:16 pm

  6. My biggest beef is that transit seems to be shunted off to secondary or even tertiary priority. Highway shuttle buses in their own dedicated lanes would have many attractive advantages over other vehicles.

    Alex Botta

    January 7, 2019 at 2:19 pm

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