City rejects prospect of East Richmond bridge
A new river crossing connecting No. 8 Road in East Richmond with Delta—an option proposed to alleviate tunnel congestion—is being flatly rejected by Richmond council.
"I think it's very destructive to Richmond itself, and particularly to East Richmond, and our council is dead set against it as am I," said Mayor Malcolm Brodie.
On Monday council formalized its opposition to one of five options pitched by the province to improve traffic flow at the George Massey Tunnel. Provincial officials revealed the options Monday, ahead of a second round of public consultations on tunnel improvement options.
An open house is set for March 13 at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
The option for a new crossing at No. 8 Road calls for the existing tunnel to be maintained. A new bridge or tunnel would link East Richmond with 80th Street in Delta and offer connections to Highway 91 in Richmond and the South Fraser Perimeter Road in Delta.
Brodie said although there's long been fear of an East Richmond bridge—which would link to Port Metro Vancouver's land—the city didn't know it was a real possibility.
"I am very disappointed that option would be actively considered," he said. "This has been a suggestion that has been rejected by Richmond a number of times in the past."
Other options include replacing the tunnel with a new bridge, replacing the tunnel with a new tunnel, maintaining the tunnel and building a new adjacent crossing, and simply maintaining the existing tunnel.
All options include upgrades to the Highway 99 interchange at Steveston Highway.
Of the options presented, replacing the existing tunnel with a new tunnel has the most appeal aesthetically and logistically, said Brodie.
In a report to council, transportation director Victor Wei said a new East Richmond crossing would “undoubtedly impact” farmland and is contrary to the city’s long-term vision. A similar plan was also rejected by the city more than two decades ago, he told council.
“As this option was not indicated as a key demand from the public through Phase 1 of public consultation, the rationale of reviving it for Phase 2 for the current public consultation is unclear to staff,” noted Wei.
Coun. Harold Steves told The Richmond Review he favours a rapid transit line to alleviate tunnel congestion, along with new rules for trucks.
The expansion of Deltaport—the largest container terminal in Canada—will boost container capacity by one-third in 2015. Further proposed expansion of the terminal would double total capacity—leading to more truck traffic at the tunnel.
Steves suggested trucks should be banned on highways during rush hour, a measure long in place in Los Angeles.
“There’s no need to build a bridge in the short term. Get the trucks out of there and people would be amazed of how the traffic changes,” said Steves.
George Massey Tunnel
•Four-lane tunnel opened in 1959
•Counter-flow system created in 1981
•Serves more than 80,000 vehicles per day
•An open house on the tunnel replacement project is scheduled for Wednesday, March 13 at the Richmond Olympic Oval from 6 to 9 p.m.
•Further open houses: March 14 at Sullivan Hall in Surrey from 6 to 9 p.m.; March 16 at Coast Tsawwassen Inn in Delta from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.