The government of British Columbia is looking to partner with the private sector in order to build a new bridge over the Fraser River that will eventually replace the existing George Massey Tunnel.
“The project will be procured through a public-private partnership to design, build, partially finance, operate, maintain and rehabilitate the asset for a term of 30 years,” the government said in a statement. “This procurement approach best provides value to taxpayers.”
The project entails building a 10-lane bridge – four general travel lanes and one dedicated/HOV lane in each direction to modern seismic standards; replacing three interchanges; widening approximately 24km of Highway 99; replacing the Deas Slough Bridge; and constructing multi-use pathways on either side of the bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.
“The bridge will remove what is currently the worst traffic bottleneck in BC [British Columbia], and eliminate over one million hours of vehicle idling each year,” British Columbia’s minister of transportation and infrastructure, Todd Stone, wrote in an editorial in March, explaining the government’s decision to build a new bridge.
“From a technical perspective, the analysis that’s been done shows a new bridge would be less expensive and would have less of an impact to private property, the environment, park land and agricultural land,” he said, noting the ministry has engaged in detailed technical analysis for the past 10 years.
The other options the government considered for replacing the George Massey Tunnel was twinning the current tunnel or building a new one. According to Stone, a new bridge was not only the most technically feasible option, it was also the most popular among British Columbians who had the opportunity to voice their opinion.
Built in the late 1950s, the George Massey Tunnel has about 10 years left before major components like lighting, ventilation and pumping systems will need replacement, according to Stone. It also does not meet current seismic standards.
The provincial government did not provide a cost estimate for the project, but according to local media, its price tag will be around C$3.5 billion ($2.7 billion; €2.4 billion).
Construction of the new bridge is slated to begin in 2017 with a view to opening the bridge in 2022 and decommissioning the tunnel the following year.