Massey tunnel to be made earthquake-resistant

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — If there’s one place a trucker doesn’t want to be in the event of an earthquake, it’s probably the George Massey Tunnel.

Located underneath the Lower Fraser River between Richmond and Delta, the tunnel runs 15 metres beneath the water’s surface.

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Highways is currently working on a $25 million seismic upgrade to ensure the tunnel is earthquake-ready, should “the big one” hit the coastal city anytime soon.

Last February’s earthquake in Seattle shook up the city of Vancouver, sounding alarm bells about that city’s preparedness in the event of a major quake. That’s part of the reason behind the upgrade.

“The problem is, this is silt, riverbed, the worst kind of material,” Allan Galambos, the ministry’s regional rehabilitation engineer, told local media. “The whole area is difficult to work in. You put something that you don’t want to move into a soil mass that will turn to jelly [during an earthquake]. It’s a challenge, to be sure.”

Although work is already under way, the design phase is expected to take until March, 2002, at which time it will be up to the B.C. Liberals to approve the rest of the upgrades.

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