B.C. government releases cost and design details of George Massey Tunnel replacement

Rendering of bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel
Rendering of Massey Tunnel replacement bridge

Plus, seismic events around B.C. and Kits coast guard station to reopen 

The B.C. government wants your input on replacing the Massey Tunnel with a new 10-lane bridge. On Wednesday Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone launched the third phase of consultation and released design and cost details of the estimated $3.5-billion George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project. Members of the public can weigh in on the plan through January 28, 2016, after which the ministry will finalize the project scope and cost estimate, and submit the project application for environmental review.

Certainly the Vancouver Board of Trade is in favour. “Minister Stone’s announcement is great news not just for residents of Greater Vancouver, but for businesses across the province,” said VBOT president and CEO Iain Black in a release. “The new 10-lane Bridge and Highway 99 improvements will alleviate congestion from the province’s worst bottleneck, while bolstering trade and strengthening British Columbia’s role as Canada’s Pacific Gateway.”

The George Massey Tunnel, which opened in 1959, no longer meets modern standards for seismic safety, and many of its major components will need to be replaced in 10 years. The new bridge would be the longest cable-stay bridge in North America and one of the widest. About three kilometres long, it would be 65 per cent longer than the Port Mann Bridge and 32 per cent longer than the Alex Fraser.

Whole lotta shakin’
Speaking of seismic safety, a bulletin from the BC Oil and Gas Commission on Tuesday confirmed that a magnitude 4.6 “seismic event” about 100 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John in northeast B.C. last August was caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking. The bulletin notes that a magnitude 4.6 quake will generally cause brief shaking felt at the surface but is not a risk to public or environmental safety.

More recently, Earthquakes Canada recorded a 3.6-magnitude earthquake between Ashcroft and Kamloops on December 16, and there have been seven quakes ranging between 1.7 and 2.4 magnitude around Princeton in the past month, including one on December 15 according to Earthquake Track. Meanwhile Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland are still waiting for the Big One.

It’s (almost) back!
It’s official: the Kitsilano coast guard station shuttered by the Harper government will reopen. Hunter Tootoo, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, is in Vancouver this week to discuss details with the province, the city, First Nations and stakeholders. “The Prime Minister made the commitment to re-open the Kitsilano Canadian Coast Guard Base and we are delivering on that commitment,” said Tootoo in a statement. “I have directed my officials to begin restoration work as soon as possible.” He was joined by Premier Christy Clark, Mayor Gregor Robertson and Canadian Coast Guard Commissioner Jody Thomas in front of the Kitsilano Coast Guard facility, which has been closed since February 2013.