Richmond council is asking the federal government to step in and take a hard look at the provincial government’s plan to replace the Massey tunnel with a ten-lane bridge.
Councillor Harold Steves says council has Freedom of Information documents that show the bridge isn’t about addressing congestion, but rather the result of lobbying by business interests who want to dredge and use the Fraser for heavy duty commercial shipping.
“In 2012 the Port contacted the Ministry of Transport and met with them I believe a few times and sent emails and documents back and forth requesting the removal of the tunnel. In it they said they wanted the tunnel removed to the depth 15.5 meters in the short term and 18.5 meters over the next hundred year period.”
Steves says council has now asked the federal government to step in and review the project.
“We have asked for a full federal investigation under the federal environmental assessment act because it is not just a bridge in a highway corridor. When you are building a bridge in a highway corridor so you can dredge the river all the way to Fraser Surrey Docks to 15 meters that is something that should be dealt with by the federal environmental agency.”
Steves adds former Transportation minister Kevin Falcon spent $19-million on seismic upgrades as part of plan to add two new lanes to the tunnel.
He wants to know what happened to that plan and how the province came to decide on the three and half billion dollar bridge.
Delta fires back
But Delta’s mayor is firing back at Richmond over the Massey crossing.
Lois Jackson says the idea to pull the tunnel has been on the table for decades.
“We’ve been pressing for the replacement of that tunnel since the early 80s when we had to have the commuter traffic reversed morning and night to get people through the tunnel. This is not new and I’m really disappointed in our colleagues north of the river.”
Jackson says there’s nothing secret about the plan — and that Richmond, Delta, and Surrey have all been consulted.
“This whole question of FOI is a bit of a sham really. There are thousands and thousands of pages that are available for people to see.”
No word yet from Ottawa on whether it’s willing to wade into the dispute.