July 20, 2017

Massey Crossing Tunnel Vision,Locals Speak Out about Bridging the Gap

There is now direct crossing controversy in Delta where the editor of the Delta Optimist has gone on record favouring the option of an overbuilt Massey Bridge for safety reasons-strangely advocating exactly the points put forward by the Delta Mayor and City Manager in their thousands of dollars paid ad in the Vancouver Sun. This crossing upgrade is not supported by the Mayors’ Council or Metro Vancouver. Commenters immediately took the editor to task as being a spokesman for the Corporation of Delta.
The editor said: “Delta has focused its persuasion efforts on the need to safeguard the public and the economy, particularly as it relates to the tunnel’s seismic situation, as well as the costs and shortcomings of other crossing options…it’s not technically feasible to upgrade the tunnel to meet current seismic standards, a finding of a report done a decade ago after the first phase of seismic work had been undertaken. A more recent report says the tunnel would only be able to withstand a one-in-275-year earthquake, which is far below today’s one-in-2,475-year standard. As far as building a new tunnel rather than a bridge, a favourite rallying cry of project opponents, reports in Delta’s package show it would be more costly ($4.3 billion vs. $3.5 billion), have greater environmental impacts and take far longer to get the necessary approvals.”
Now  there IS a response from Delta residents that believe they have been (no pun intended) railroaded into a bridge that does not serve their purposes. As one reader noted he was aghast that Delta would speak for the taxpayers of that municipality without asking them. As the reader wrote “In the bridge case, there is ample evidence that the community is very disturbed at the prospect of this huge bridge” and asked for some direct community consultation.
Meanwhile in Richmond a letter writer to the Richmond News noted  “There is no doubt the Fraser crossing needs to be improved in order to be effective for all traffic and transit needs. However, the safety record of the tunnel speaks for itself. If “the potential for a catastrophic failure of the tunnel is real,” why are the Dutch with a similar and older tunnel not concerned with its safety?” The writer also noted that in an earthquake “The road system as it exists will fail before the tunnel will. In the event of a serious earthquake, it will make no difference if a bridge is safer than a tunnel. The bridge, should it survive, will not serve any purpose. If Richmond has the catastrophic results that are predicted with an earthquake of this magnitude, the crossing will be inaccessible and irrelevant…The fact is that in a seismic event as major as this report discusses, the real issue of the crossings will be how to evacuate and support the affected areas and people, not the economy of Delta or Surrey.”

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  2. The rebuttal makes zero sense because the limiting factor is seismic.
    However, the safety record of the tunnel speaks for itself. If “the potential for a catastrophic failure of the tunnel is real,” why are the Dutch with a similar and older tunnel not concerned with its safety?”
    When was the last time you heard of a large earthquake in the Netherlands? The largest I’ve found record of in the Netherlands isn’t large.
    Looking at Wikipedia’s list of largest earthquakes by country, the Netherlands is the 8th least seismically active country when sorting by earthquake magnitude. A M5.3 earthquake happened ~125km from the Maas Tunnel.
    BC is at risk of earthquakes right up to M9.2 according to that same list. Just under 10,000x as much energy…

    1. An excellent point, Urbinflux. However, this one crossing will not be the highest priority to replace after a 9.2. In fact, it will probably be so far down the list when an entire devastated city of 2.5++ million (who knows when the Big One will hit?) needs to be dug out and resurrected that it may well never be replaced, or if it does, then replaced with a focus on vastly more efficient transit.

      1. Almost all modern/critical infrastructure is built to 1-in-2475 or 1-in-10000 around here.
        The potential M9.2 is also several hundred km away, a nearby/shallow M8 is also a huge threat around here.

  3. Of course not everyone in Delta is for or against a new bridge. Some like it quiet and some want progress and more commerce.
    What is the expert opinion / assessment on seismic retrofits of the existing tunnels ? Assuming it can be done for some $s, plus 2 or 4 new lanes in a parallel tunnel or 2, why are these options not preferred / evaluated ?
    Has the bridge construction started as it was meant to start May 2017 ?
    is it true that a newer bridge in case of an earthquake would provide far faster exits from semi-destroyed Richmond ? Has someone modeled that ? How likely is that earthquake ?

  4. It’s no surprise to me that the local mayors (other than Mayor Jackson) are against the bridge. Ever heard of “tunnel vision”? They all have “transit vision” (same thing). I was just looking at what China is doing and it made me embarrassed to be a Canadian. Our municipal (and likely our new provincial) leaders talk out against and resist what has to be done. But the Chinese leaders see the real needs and have the courage to stand up and build to accommodate those needs. And all their residents enjoy the benefits from this new infrastructure in their lifetime. But here, all I can see is that our “leaders” want to shove us all on the bus. What is so wrong with being able to drive? Why do you guys hate cars so much? If you don’t get out of he way to allow the construction of this necessary crossing, you are dooming those hard working folks south of the Fraser to a life of gridlock. Not much of a future, is it?

    1. ….a bridge to nowhere…..once you access Richmond & Vancouver & Burnaby….it’s gridlock today….so increasing the amount of traffic will do -deleted as per editorial policy….@ +++ $$$$$ cost.

  5. Somebody with expertise, or insight, please explain the Delta Optimist editor’s comment,
    “A more recent report says the tunnel would only be able to withstand a one-in-275-year earthquake, which is far below today’s one-in-2,475-year standard.”
    For a country that’s only 150 years old, planning for a one in two and a half millenia event seems like total overkill. Heck, the Roman Empire didn’t even exist 2500 years ago!
    How much of the province’s infrastructure can meet that standard? Once the big one hits and the Cleveland,Seymour, Coquitlam dams and the water mains under Burrard Inlet and the Fraser all fail, will we be grateful we still have a Massey tunnel or bridge standing so the survivors can get the heck out?
    Just as earthquakes are measured on a logarithmic scale, building structures to withstand greater magnitude quakes has an exponential cost.
    Regardless of tunnel or bridge, they must be built to rational tolerances with rational budgets.

    1. Actually we build those types of infrastructure to survive a 1-in-10,000 year earthquake event if they’re difficult to repair.
      1-in-2475 is what critical infrastructure for Metro Vancouver is built to if it’s not immensely difficult to repair. Big water mains, treatment plants, etc…
      The tunnels I spent 3 years building in North Van are built for 1-in-10000, so are the new water tunnels under the Fraser. If they were to collapse it would be a multi-year repair process, so they can’t be knocked out of service in any reasonable circumstance including in the event of a -big- earthquake.
      I’m not entirely sure about Cleveland Dam’s current seismic standard, but upgrades are planned to go to 1-in-10000.
      For Coquitlam they built a second dam below the old dam to essentially catch the old dam if it fails in an earthquake.
      Seymour Dam has been recently upgraded about 8 years ago.

  6. I believe the most important point in this debate is being missed by Delta. Delta does not need a 10-lane monster bridge to serve its needs. There is no rational or independent feasibility study that proves it does, other than the propaganda issued by Todd Stone et al that only regurgitates the myths that support our egregious levels of car dependency.
    What is missing is a serious examination of the benefits of transit brought up to the quality of service standards of European and Asian cities, and the reorientation of the suburbs away from Autotopia and toward sustainable urbanism. Bill R’s comment above on being “…shoved onto a bus …” says it all about the low level of discourse and high level of ignorance on the benefits frequent rail transit can bring to the Metro.
    This bridge is about cars vs. transit, unsustainable forms of urbanism vs. resilient cities, the past vs. the future.

    1. And of course everyone knows that the tunnel is “rotting” like a discarded carrot on the compost pile, therefore it needs to be replaced with a piece of infrastructure even Atlanta or LA would have trouble understanding or justifying the cost of.
      Someone with engineering or transportation planning expertise really needs to take a hard look at Delta’s sources.

  7. Who is the manufacturer of these fantasy bridge porn shots? This one is seriously hot.
    Simon Sinek stresses the why of doing things. The why here – to speed working stiffs to the big city, at big cost, to fulfill their ‘indispensable’ functions, begs the question – why not spend the money in The Boonies of Delta to create jobs and industry? What functions are these precious working stiffs doing that they feel compelled to commute.
    Seriously – what jobs are they doing? Figure that out – and make them stop. Let them do their business in Delta. Slow down and enjoy life. Why the fast ferry mentality? Besides the fact that there’s big money on the table for that sexy bridge.

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