Massey Tunnel reality check
Its time for a Massey Tunnel reality check. The recent announcement on replacing the Massey Tunnel is nothing more than a public relations gesture. Talk is cheap. An actual tunnel replacement – not so much. It will be 15 years or more before a tunnel replacement is built and it will come with at least a $4 billion price tag at today’s prices and more than likely will be tolled.
In the meantime Port Metro Vancouver plans to route even more container trucks through the Massey Tunnel, claiming that port trucks – today and in the future - are not the cause of congestion at the tunnel today. Depending on which set of figures you believe—and there have been several estimates—we could see up to 4500 trucks a day traveling to and from Roberts Bank by 2017, an increase of 1500 trucks over today. And if they get their way they then plan on doubling the size of the container port on Roberts Bank with estimates that truck trips could almost double to 7400 trucks per day. All this well before any tunnel replacement is likely to be in place.
The current port transport infrastructure is hopelessly broken. So what could be done to improve things? There are a number of ways in which Port Metro Vancouver could lessen their truck movements, including:
Use barges to transport containers by water on and off Deltaport.
Implement short haul rail, whereby containers destined to/from the Lower Mainland are hauled by rail to existing inland intermodal terminals on the Fraser River.
Expand one or more of the inner harbour container terminals. One of these terminal operators has requested to double the size of its operation but Port Metro Vancouver says it has no plans to do so until 2030
Cooperate with the port of Prince Rupert and take the pressure off Vancouver area ports by routing more traffic through Prince Rupert. (This was also a federal government recommendation).
Problem is that Port Metro Vancouver seems to have no interest in looking for solutions to ease the traffic nightmare at the Massey Tunnel and elsewhere in the lower mainland.
So perhaps it is time for Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities to start putting the pressure on by demanding that Port Metro Vancouver takes action. Perhaps for example Metro Vancouver should seek a levy on every truck that arrives or leaves Deltaport. Some other container ports in North America already have such fees levied.