The following is my original letter to the editor of the Richmond News:
As someone who has lived in Richmond my entire life and for the last few years, have been commuting to Surrey for work, I feel I have a unique perspective on this whole Massey Tunnel Replacement project.
I think we can all agree that the current state of the George Massey Tunnel is not suitable for the level of traffic that crosses it everyday. Our region is growing and we need to come up with strong, stable solutions for people to get from place A to B and back everyday.
If you’re a Richmondite going into Surrey, Delta, Ladner, Tsawwassen or White Rock, it’s fine to take the Tunnel in the morning. But for everyone coming home from work, coming into Richmond or heading into Vancouver, it’s about 5 or 6 lanes merging into 1 counterflow lane. It’s an unmitigated disaster. So here, twinning the tunnel makes sense. Double the lanes, lessen the congestion.
But with a colossal, tolled, 10-lane bridge, many Richmondites will opt to take the toll-free Alex Fraser Bridge instead. And so will a lot of people from Surrey and New Westminster once the Patullo Bridge is turned into a brand new toll bridge. Everyone knows that bridge is next for redevelopment. Imagine that train-wreck waiting to happen. People, now more than ever are feeling it in their wallets. The province keeps increasing MSP rates, ICBC premiums, Hydro rates, Transit fares and BC Ferries fares. Now, they want to charge you to cross (more) bridges.
Then, throw in the loss of farmland, the eventual industrialization of the Fraser River caused by the dredging of the river and removal of theTunnel, as well as the subsequent threats to our food security that will all be enabled by Christy Clark’s Massey Tunnel Replacement project.
These are the effects of a poorly constructed plan from the provincial government. Normally, a government would consult with mayors, councillors, and local stakeholders first and come together on viable options. Then, implement them. But Christy Clark’s approach is toannounce a project with a nice hard hat photo-op and then sell the plan to everyone whether they like it or not. Just ask Mayor Brodie and Richmond City Council what that experience has been like.
Here’s a better solution: Extend the Canada Line south of the Fraser. Connect it to Surrey and Delta’s respective business centres. Most of those taking the tunnel are single occupancy vehicles. Add in viable transit options now and you take a lot of those off the road. With a better transit system, we won’t need to worry about the logjam at the Oak Street Bridge because rapid transit will be a viable option. Then you twin the tunnel. To pay for all of it, take the $3.5 billion dollars allotted to the project and you will probably even find some savings.
Proponents of the Bridge will tell you that the bridge solution has space for transit lines in the future. But there are no specifics and there is no official plan for transit. Proponents of the Bridge will tell you that there will be a net-gain in farmland. But Todd Stone has yet to provide any specifics as to how that will happen. Proponents of the Bridge will say that 60% of traffic going through the Tunnel stops in Richmond. When asked how that data was collected, they say “using Bluetooth Technology”, which most cars don’t have. They’ve constructed this massive $3.5 billion project and don’t have specifics on transit or the changes to farmland or traffic data. In the private sector, if you’re asking for $3.5 billion for anything and you don’t have specifics, you’ll find yourself in a tough place.
The Province keeps saying that this Bridge will solve all problems but there are clearly more problems that it creates. And now, there are even more questions. Christy Clark’s “Government-first, Communities-last” approach to governing isn’t working. Richmond always gets the short end of the stick from the BC Government and with this massive $3.5 billion project, it’s no different.