A Staff report about the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project was endorsed by Richmond City Council on June 26, 2014 in a letter to the Minister of Transportation Todd Stone. In the City of Richmond staff report, staff state concerns that a new bridge could just move the congestion from the George Massey Tunnel to the south end of the Oak St. bridge Staff also reports that a new interchange for Blundell road has been part of the official Community plan since 1999 and they expect it to be part of the new bridge proposal. Port Metro Vancouver also states in their letter that they encourage the Ministry to explore the option of an interchange at Blundell to allow for a better trucking route. The Blundell area residents have previously expressed strong opposition to an on ramp and/or off ramp at Blundell and hwy 99 and their concerns are not part of the staff report.
City staff also indicate that the George Massey Tunnel Replacement bridge would likely be tolled and they have concerns about the tolling methods used by the province since they tend to shift traffic to crossings that are free to use, such as the Alex Fraser bridge. History has shown that the new Port Mann bridge has resulted in shifting of traffic to the Pattulo bridge causing traffic issues in New Westminster. The Golden Ears bridge has been under utilized due to a hefty toll.
Staff has also stated that they want clarification of the travel numbers since the Ministries report claims that 50 % of tunnel traffic is destined for Richmond, this number is being questioned. Staff also say that the new bridge will likely allow for 8 to 10 lanes and they need clarification on how those lanes will be used because that information is critical since it could help with rapid transit or subsequently impede it. The Oak st. bridge is only four lanes and the bottle neck of traffic could cause major delays for truckers, travelers and others trying to access YVR. The economy of the lower mainland depends on reasonable access to YVR so this potentially grid lock of traffic could negatively affect business at YVR.
The City states that the George Massey Tunnel Replacement design should be architecturally impressive to signify it as an iconic bridge, but does the city represent the feeling of the people of Richmond ? These and many other concerns need to be addressed before the City of Richmond moves forward with any project or the destruction of the Massey tunnel.
A concern for RITE Richmond is that Port Metro Vancouver in the their letter to the City of Richmond makes an argument that the Fraser River is as significant to the Canadian economy as the St Lawrence seaway. While it is important to have economic growth, ultimately the new bridge would result in industrializing both sides of the Fraser River and threatening the most important Salmon run in the world along with threatening the tourism industry in Steveston.
The Massey Tunnel Replacement Project requires more accurate information, before forever changing the landscape of Richmond. Many people have indicated support for another crossing but want to keep the Massey tunnel in place for future use as a corridor potentially for rapid transit or other forms of transportation. RITE Richmond has stated the only reason to remove the Massey Tunnel is to industrialize both sides of the Fraser River and that is not acceptable. More work needs to be done to find solutions to deal with traffic grid lock at the tunnel and at the same time protect the Fraser river. Another crossing could be the solution but the location of that crossing should involve more public input, and we need to explore better rapid transit options.