Two contracts for preliminary construction work on the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project will go to tender this week. The contracts are for site preparation in order to improve ground conditions for future lane widening. The ministry will award one contract for work in Delta and one for work in Richmond. Work will begin only after the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure receives the project’s Environmental Assessment and Agricultural Land Commission certificates. Both early works contracts will operate under an environmental management plan to ensure the work is in line with the project’s environmental obligations. This site preparation work includes ditch improvements and the placement of pre-load material on soft soils immediately adjacent to the existing highway. Pre-load work is standard practice on most major highway construction projects.
Soil is piled to compress the existing ground in advance of the main work, which will minimize settlement following construction. Pre-load work requires long timelines which is why the work needs to start as soon as all approvals are in place. Information gathered from these two contracts will be provided to the three short-listed proponents for the major construction contract so they may better assess technical conditions in the preparation of their designs. The ministry expects to have its preferred proponent chosen by summer 2017. The new bridge and associated highway improvements, including dedicated transit lanes, will cut some commute times in half and also improve travel-time reliability for the 10,000 transit passengers and more than 80,000 vehicles that use the tunnel each day. Safety benefits of the project include a design that meets modern seismic standards, additional lanes that make merging safer for all vehicles while reducing collisions by an estimated 35%, and wider lanes and shoulders that will improve safety and emergency response times. It is estimated that about 9,000 direct jobs will be created over the life of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project. Construction will begin this year with the bridge opening in 2022, followed by tunnel decommissioning.