A recent survey of Richmond Chamber of Commerce members, following the release of the Project Definition Report for the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, shows overwhelming support from the Richmond business community for the project. This survey focused specifically on the proposed bridge, and of decided respondents, 87 per cent were in support of the provincial government's proposed bridge to replace the current George Massey Tunnel.
Business owners were also asked if they themselves, their employees, customers and/or suppliers rely on the corridor. Only five per cent of respondents' businesses were unaffected. These results are supported by those of a 2013 survey, conducted by the chamber during the planning phase of the project. At that time, 93 per cent of respondents wanted to see an improved crossing, with 51 per cent at that time favouring a bridge.
"At the Richmond Chamber, we've been calling for an improved, more efficient George Massey Corridor for some time," said Rob Akimow, chair of the Richmond Chamber. "We believe that this substantial infrastructure investment will benefit the business community and residents by making it easier and safer for customers, employees, and goods and services to move in and out of Richmond," Akimow said.
"The net gain of agricultural land outlined in the report, the capacity for eventual addition of Light Rail Transit over the bridge, 9,000 construction jobs and the access for cycling and walking over the South Arm of the Fraser River, all contribute to our support of the planned bridge," he added.
A common theme from the survey comments was a desire to see the alleviation of congestion between Richmond and Delta, tempered by concern for proposed tolling. In response to these concerns and those expressed by the City of Richmond, the Chamber asked that the province continue to work with Metro Vancouver and local municipalities to develop an integrated land use management strategy, including infrastructure funding mechanisms.
"We also encourage the federal level government to contribute funding to this project, as Hwy. 99 links Richmond and YVR directly to the South Fraser Perimeter Road system and the U.S. border, in addition to being a key corridor for goods travelling to and from Port Metro Vancouver," said Akimow. He explained that the long-term economic and social advantages of this project are vital to Richmond.
The chamber estimates that 10 to 20 per cent of the current local labour force commutes daily via the George Massey Tunnel.
"The costs of congestion and traffic delays have a massive negative impact on working families and the Richmond economy," said Akimow.