As the BC NDP government takes the next big step to build a new Massey crossing, BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon has made it clear that he would halt construction, keeping commuters stuck in traffic another three years.
On Thursday, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming and BC NDP MLAs from Richmond broke ground on the Steveston interchange, one component of the Massey Tunnel replacement project.
The interchange is expected to open in 2025 – and will eventually connect people in Richmond with Highway 99 and the new Massey crossing.
Still, Kevin Falcon wants to halt the project, scrap progress, and go back to a toll bridge: “That tunnel is going to get cancelled if we form government,” Falcon told Red FM.
Falcon’s plan will add years to the project’s timeline.
“People who use the Massey Tunnel everyday have waited a long time for a replacement that works,” said BC NDP MLA for Richmond-Queensborough Aman Singh. “They’re tired of it. Kevin Falcon wants to keep them stuck in traffic longer. We want to get this done for people and today we took a big step towards that.”
Falcon’s plan to go back to a toll bridge would require a new environmental assessment and take nine years to complete. Starting that process after the next election in 2024 would delay completion of the crossing until 2033, three years later than the tunnel is set to open under the BC NDP.
It would also mean writing off millions of dollars that have already been committed to work on the tunnel.
“Kevin Falcon’s plan to scrap our progress on a new Massey crossing and start over on a tolled bridge will cost people,” said MLA Aman Singh. “On top of making people wait longer for a new crossing, he’ll also make them pay to use it. People can’t afford that.”
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie also criticized Falcon’s plan to scrap the tunnel progress and go back to planning a toll bridge. Mayor Brodie told Global News: “I just don’t think it’s an idea that should go forward. To go back in time, back to the future to a 10-lane bridge which, really, very few want.”
As a BC Liberal Transportation Minister in the 2000s, Kevin Falcon tolled the Port Mann Bridge and planned to toll the Massey replacement.
He still thinks tolls are a good idea. When the BC NDP removed tolls on the Port Mann in 2017, Falcon criticized the decision. As recently as last year, he still thought removing tolls was “short-sighted.”
“When the BC NDP took tolls off the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges, it put money back in people’s pockets at a time when life was getting more and more expensive. That’s why we did it,” said Aman Singh. “If Kevin Falcon still thinks tolls are a good idea, then he’s really not thinking about families and their costs. He’s not working for people.”