The George Massey Tunnel in British Columbia, Canada, connects primary gateways including the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), the Peace Arch border crossing, the BC Ferries Tsawwassen terminal, the Deltaport container terminal and Boundary Bay Airport (YDT).

The province of British Columbia a project to replace the tunnel with a bridge in April 2017. The $3.5bn project will include the construction of a new bridge and carrying out related improvements on Highway 99 from Bridgeport Road in Richmond and Highway 91 in Delta.

Transportation Investment Corporation (TIC) is delivering the project, which is anticipated to be completed by 2022.

The tunnel replacement will provide employment to approximately 9,000 people during construction. The existing tunnel is used by an average of 80,000 vehicles a day.

Need for George Massey Tunnel replacement

Built in 1959, the existing 629m-long George Massey Tunnel is located along a vital goods movement route and is an important access point for businesses in Delta, Surrey, Richmond, and Tsawwassen First Nation.

The tunnel has become old and does not meet current seismic standards. It can’t be brought up to current standards without the risk of damage. The tunnel without improvements will constrain the economic viability and also increase congestion and travel times, given the increasing population of Metro Vancouver, which is anticipated to cross one million in the next 30 years.

The British Columbia government initiated studies to address the concerss about public safety and congestion in and near the tunnel in 2012. It decided to replace the tunnel with a bridge in order to relieve congestion and ensure safety of the residents.

The new bridge will be built in compliance with modern seismic standards, providing a lifeline crossing over the Fraser River in the event of a major earthquake.

The environmental assessment process (EAP) began in December 2015 and the project was approved in February 2017.

Details of the George Massey Tunnel replacement

The new bridge replacing the George Massey Tunnel will be a ten-lane bridge. It will feature four travel lanes and a single transit or HOV lane in each direction. Multi-use pathways for cyclists and pedestrians will be provided on either side of the bridge.

Highway 99 will be improved with an addition of transit lanes between Bridgeport Road in Richmond and Highway 91 in Delta, as part of the project.

The project will also include the replacement of three interchanges and the Deas Slough bridge, construction of multi-use lanes on either side of the bridge.

The old tunnel will be decommissioned once the new bridge becomes operational in 2022.

George Massey Tunnel replacement benefits

The new bridge will reduce the journey time by half and enhance the reliability of travelling-time.

It will improve vehicular capacity with double traffic lanes in each direction, and enhance safety for pedestrians and cyclists between Delta and Richmond. It will also link the current network at river road in Delta and Steveston Highway in Richmond.

The bridge will include a pathway for multiple uses linking to Steveston Highway and River Road that makes walking and cycling viable conveyance methods in the location.

George Massey Tunnel replacement construction

Construction works on the tunnel replacement began with site preparation works including ditch improvements and the placement of pre-load material on soft soils located near the existing highway. The soil will be piled to compress the existing ground in advance of the main construction work.

The main construction works are expected to commence immediately after site preparation works by the end of 2017.

The main piers of the bridge will be constructed on land at the edge of the Fraser River.

Contractors involved

Three teams including Gateway Mobility Solutions, Lower Mainland Connectors and Pacific Skyway Partners were shortlisted in October 2016 to submit the request for proposals (RFP) to design, build, partially finance and operate the project.

The selection of a contractor for the project’s major construction work is anticipated to be completed by mid-2017.

Hall Constructors received an $11.5m contract for the site preparation work towards the south of the tunnel.

B&B Heavy Civil Construction of Surrey is responsible for the site preparation works from Bridgeport Road and Steveston Highway on Highway 99.

MMM Group received a $24m contract to provide engineering services for the project. Sun Coast Consulting was awarded a contract to provide technical advisory services for the project.

Hemmera EnviroChem was appointed as an environmental adviser in a contract worth $9m, while Lucent Strategies is handling community relations under a $6m contract.