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October 8, 2012

Plan to replace George Massey Tunnel meets with approval

Port Metro Vancouver supports the plan to replace the congested George Massey Tunnel under the Fraser River.

B.C. premier Christy Clark announced the provincial government’s intention to replace the tunnel at the 2012 Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention.

“The B.C. Government’s new commitment to replace the GMT (George Massey Tunnel) sends a strong message that this port and this province are open for business and ready to seize opportunities resulting from continued growth in Asian economies,” said Robin Silvester, president and chief executive officer, Port Metro Vancouver.

“A modernized crossing will further expand trade opportunities for the Fraser River terminals, like Fraser Surrey Docks, well into the future, which in turn supports a strong economy and good local jobs for many years to come.”

The premier told delegates at the convention that the government was investing more than $200 million in capital projects across the province, which includes starting the process to replace the tunnel.

It could take 10 years or more before a crossing is completed and there was no word if the crossing would be another tunnel or a bridge.

Port Metro Vancouver has been asking the B.C. Government to address the long standing concern that the tunnel presents a barrier to continued growth in the Fraser River terminals, in particular to Fraser Surrey Docks.

The single biggest challenge that the tunnel represents to ocean-going vessels is related to ship ‘draft’, the depth of water required for those vessels to transit the river.

In addition to supporting continued growth in the Vancouver Gateway, the tunnel is part of a primary north/south corridor with the busy nearby international border crossing that links the U.S. and Metro Vancouver.

When work began on the Deas Island Tunnel in 1956, it was the first tunnel in North America to be constructed using immersed tube tunnel technology.

The 629 metre (2,063 ft) long tunnel is made up of separate elements, each prefabricated in a manageable length in a dry dock.

The tunnel is a single tube subdivided with a concrete wall, with each side containing two traffic lanes.

About 1,500 people worked on the $29 million tunnel project. Nearly 500 men worked on the construction and placement of the immersed tube elements.

The Deas Island Tunnel was opened to traffic on May 23, 1959 and was later renamed the George Massey Tunnel.

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