November 4, 2019

Eight Lane Tunnel Approved for Massey Crossing by Metro Vancouver Board


Last week the Metro Vancouver Board met and approved the recommendation of their task force for an eight lane immersive tunnel to replace the Massey Tunnel crossing of the Fraser.  This has not been a seamless process, and as reported by Simon Little of Global News  the approval was subject to conditions.  Those conditions call for a thorough environmental impact assessment, addressing First Nations concerns regarding river habitat, and the development of a structured construction timeline for project completion in six to seven years time.

The other piece, and this is major, is conducting a full review of the traffic currently using the tunnel as well as the land-use concerns of Vancouver, Richmond and Delta. This also gives the Province and Metro Vancouver a chance to work with the Port to identify a more methodical way to schedule container trucks through the tunnel, and also consider going on a 24 hour schedule like every other major port in North America. Such scheduling would also have major implications for smarter use of the port, which is currently saying they need a new terminal without addressing the fact they are only open for business half of the day.

What also needs to be discussed is that allowing three lanes of traffic in each direction and dedicated transit lanes means that work must occur on getting more people on transit. Congestion in vehicular traffic is a good thing as it makes transit more timely and convenient in dedicated lanes. I have already written about  Marchetti’s Constant. “As travel times become shorter with more dedicated travel lanes through a new tunnel, commuters can locate farther out, with the “constant” said to be about one hour in travel time. Of course as more people locate farther away, more congestion will occur at the Massey Crossing.”

You can’t build your way out of congestion, and that will need to be emphasized in meetings with Delta, Richmond and Vancouver. This might be the time that road and congestion pricing are considered for this new Fraser River crossing.

Metro Vancouver will now forward the agreed upon option of the immersive tunnel  to the Province. Unlike the last go round with the past Provincial Liberal government, the current NDP government asked the region to come to an agreement about which  Massey crossing option was preferred. The previous Liberal provincial government had proposed a ten lane bridge very similar to the Port Mann, complete with cloverleaf overpasses that looked as if they were imported from Los Angeles. The now approved immersive tunnel option allows the tunnel to be built in sections with prefabricated links, and also has a grade that would allow for the eventual installation of rail, a technical impossibility on the slope of the previously proposed massive bridge.

Here’s a video from the Vancouver Sun taken last month about the eight lane immersive tunnel that is now approved by Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors.





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  1. Living in South Surrey my brain calculates Marchetti’s Constant almost daily. In free-flowing traffic my trip into town is just under an hour no matter how I get there, bus or car. In heavy traffic it’s still an hour by bus but up to 90 minutes by car. I suspect that if the new tunnel makes traffic flow more easily (and if they don’t just pile up at the Oak Bridge), more people doing the same calculation will choose to drive because there’s no time penalty. The only thing I can see changing the equation is a train which doesn’t run on the same grid and shaves time off the trip no matter how fast the roads are moving. If I ruled the world I would use the transit lanes in the new tunnel to run a fast train between White Rock and the Canada Line and keep the busses doing loops in the local communities. We don’t have much of a train culture here but I ride them all over the world and there’s nothing quite like flying down the rails while drinking a latte and reading my emails.

    1. Let’s face it.. Climate Emergency. No mention in this article but this is the elephant in the tunnel.

      If we r serious about the climate crisis & Paris targets et al there can be no vehiclear Expansion. More over we actually have to reduce current road use.

      Electric transit seems to be the answer but we shld 1st put electric b-line buses in immediately to ferry tswassen ladner & white rock with park & ride lots.

      Maybe we won’t even need rail for a long time.

  2. There’s a cornucopia of low-hanging fruit for increased Massey Crossing transit use to/from Richmond. Relatively easily, there can be greatly increased user-friendly transit between South-of-the-Fraser and (a) south Richmond via a humane Steveston/99 bus interchange, instead of the horrific semblance of an interchange, and (b) central Richmond via the Westminster/99 interchange—probably from the Ladner Exchange—to the Brighouse Bus Mall.

    (The “Bus Mall” is an exchange that has been vapourware since at least 2006. It is practically adjacent to Brighouse Station, on No. 3 Rd just south of the station entrance, rather narrow but stretching eastward for a full block, with plans for an emergency exit on Buswell St.)

    The semi-humane current transit route between South-of-the-Fraser and central and south Richmond is routed through Bridgeport Station in north Richmond, typically with a transit change for a leg back south to Brighouse Station and the current notional “Brighouse bus exchange.” From there, many users face another transit change—involving “bays” on No. 3 Rd and side streets that are spread over hundreds of metres.

    For the potential 622 route to/from the Brighouse Bus Mall, the Alexander Dennis Enviro500 double-deckers would be user-friendly and enviro-friendly. To convert SOV users commuters to/from central Richmond into transit commuters, it would help a lot to have service that is frequent from the beginning and promised to remain so, as opposed to TransLink’s usual gradual approach (usually good, but probably not best in this case).

    Much of this is obvious to anyone who cares. Some of it could start very soon, and the rest could start fairly soon. At least it could if the promised priority on a new Steveston Interchange (or even if an interim interim one, as is possible) puts transit interchange ahead of general-traffic interchange in importance. And it could if the Brighouse Bus Mall becomes a priority for Translink and the City of Richmond.

    I’ve just now added this as an article on my “Natural legacies versus waste” blog to include map images,

    1. A new canada line station under the oak st bridge with direct highway rapid bus access would be almost as fast as extending the canada line to white rock —- no need for existing milk run to bridgeport

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