VANCOUVER, BC – British Columbia Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone has released design and cost details for the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project that will result in a new 10-lane bridge built over the Fraser River at Highway 99.
Construction on the estimated $3.5 billion project is expected to begin in 2017 with the span set for opening in 2022
“This will be the largest bridge ever built in B.C. When completed, it will address what is now the worst traffic bottleneck in the province and bring travel time reliability to one of our most important transportation corridors, serving national, provincial and regional economies,” said Stone.
The current tunnel is nearing its end of life, and no longer meets modern standards for seismic safety, according to the BC government. Many of its major components have about 10 years of useful life remaining before they need to be replaced, including the lighting, ventilation and pumping systems.
Officials say the bridge, which will be paid for through user tolls, will offer important safety benefits that include: a design that meets modern seismic standards; additional lanes that make merging safer for all vehicles and will reduce an estimated 35 percent of collisions; and wider lanes and shoulders that will improve safety and emergency response times.
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The bridge will be approximately three kilometers long, with four general travel lanes and one transit/HOV lane in each direction.
Other project components include new interchanges at Highway 17A, Steveston Highway and Westminster Highway and widening approximately 24 kilometers of Highway 99 to include one dedicated transit/HOV lane in each direction from Highway 91 in Delta to Bridgeport Road in Richmond, tying into existing infrastructure.
The Vancouver Sun reports he idea is to make travel more equitable across the region, particularly south of the Fraser, where drivers are already subject to a tolls along Port Mann Bridge and Golden Ears Bridge.
This would leave the already heavily congested Alex Fraser Bridge as the only free bridge across the river.
According to the newspaper, many drivers are already using that crossing to skip tolls on the Port Mann Bridge, which range from $3.15 per small vehicle to $9.45 per truck.
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