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New solution floated to ease Massey Tunnel congestion

Traffic at the George Massey Tunnel.  - Jennifer Gauthier file photo
Traffic at the George Massey Tunnel.
— image credit: Jennifer Gauthier file photo

An idea from a Ladner resident to relieve congestion at the George Massey Tunnel is getting some consideration.

Ladner resident Walt Lawrence wrote to Delta council suggesting the northbound pullout lane on the Richmond side of the tunnel be used to extend the Highway 99 off-ramp at Steveston Highway.

"I see buses and other traffic, despite the speed bumps, use that to lessen their commute time," wrote Lawrence. "(It) seems so obvious to me that this might be part of the traffic congestion answer."

The lane has long been reserved for vehicles visiting a tourist information centre, and is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transportation.

At a Delta council meeting Monday, civic politicians decided to forward the letter to the ministry for review, and asked its own staff to investigate.

Richmond Coun. Derek Dang, who said the tourist information centre has been around for decades, isn't sure an off-ramp extension would improve traffic flow at the tunnel.

The longtime councillor said Richmond discusses congestion with Ministry of Transportation officials each year, but has so far been left without a solution to relieve pressure right at the tube.

"They thought they may have pacified us by giving us the Canada Line to Richmond, but the tunnel is still a sore point."

It's likely traffic on the Steveston Highway overpass—and ramps connecting it with Highway 99—will only increase with approximately 450 new homes being built on the former site of Fantasy Gardens.

Earlier this year, Delta Mayor Lois Jackson asked her staff to investigate possible solutions to congestion at the half-century-old tunnel.

The counterflow lane system, introduced in 1989, is no longer enough, she said.

"We have got to address the question of that tunnel," Jackson told Black Press. "I'm not an engineer, I just know it's a problem, and it's just going to get bigger."

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