Traffic going in and out of the George Massey Tunnel on Highway 99 between Richmond and Delta.

Traffic going in and out of the George Massey Tunnel on Highway 99 between Richmond and Delta.

Highway 99 traffic impact of ferries shift alarmed mayors

Now-scrapped BC Ferries proposal raised congestion fears in Delta, Richmond

Mayors in Delta and Richmond were among those strongly warning the province against a now-scrapped BC Ferries idea to eliminate car ferry service out of Horseshoe Bay and send all those vehicles through Tsawwassen instead.

Less than a day after confirming it was an option, Transportation Minister Todd Stone on Wednesday ruled out a potential end to the Horsehoe Bay-Nanaimo run.

Forcing those vehicles to instead take the underused Duke Point-Tsawwassen route would have added significantly to travel times to and from Vancouver but reduced BC Ferries costs, including major upgrades at the Horseshoe Bay terminal.

Speaking prior to Stone’s reversal, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie warned it would have meant “much worse” traffic congestion on Highway 99 south of Vancouver, including through Richmond.

“To put even more traffic on Highway 99 without a plan as to how to decongest that corridor, I don’t think makes a lot of sense,” he said.

Stone had said the recent completion of the South Fraser Perimeter Road would help carry ferry traffic under that scenario.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said she is “absolutely delighted” that the provincial government heard the loud criticism of the concept and quickly “turned on a dime.”

Jackson said a major increase of vehicles through Tsawwwassen due to a ferry service shift would have compounded the traffic growth already expected from a very large retail and residential development being built by the Tsawwassen First Nation as well as potential further expansion of Deltaport.

“I would would hope BC Ferries would have the courtesy to speak with communities impacted in the future,” she said.

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