The provincial government of British Columbia (BC) has launched a US$2.7bn public-private partnership (PPP) scheme to build a toll bridge over the Fraser River in south-eastern Vancouver.
The bridge will be 3.3km long, with a cable-stay design, and it will carry 10 lanes of traffic.
Eight of these are to be for general traffic lanes and two for high occupancy vehicles. There will also be a pathway for pedestrians, and provision will be included for a future extension of Vancouver’s Sky Train.
The scheme is being procured on a finance, design, build, operate and maintain basis. As well as the bridge, the winning consortium would have the job of replacing three traffic interchanges and upgrading 24km of Highway 99.
The bridge is intended to replace the George Massey Tunnel which carries Highway 99 under the Fraser River. The bridge would have a higher capacity than the tunnel owing to its six extra lanes and its pedestrian route. It is expected to be used by about 80,000 vehicles a day.
The winning consortium would also be expected to decommission the tunnel, which was completed in 1959.
BC has issued a request for qualification for the project. It is intended to begin work next year, after which the concession contact will run for 30 years.
The tunnel replacement project has proved controversial in the area. Vancouver politicians have questioned its ecological impact and have complained about a lack of consultation.
Greg Moore, mayor of Port Coquitlam and chairman of the Vancouver Metro board, called on the province’s government to find other solutions to congestion on Highway 99 corridor.
He was quoted in the Vancouver Sun as saying "you can’t reduce congestion by simply building more roads. This project represents an expansion of car-oriented infrastructure and diverts crucial funds from transportation projects that support the regional growth strategy."
Image: An artist’s impression of the finished bridge (Supplied picture)