B.C. Hy­dro cal­cu­lates costs in halt­ing Massey bridge job

The Province - - NEWS - ROB SHAW AND JEN­NIFER SALT­MAN rshaw@post­media.com

VIC­TO­RIA — B.C. Hy­dro has qui­etly be­gun the process of cal­cu­lat­ing what it would cost to can­cel its part in the multi-bil­lion-dol­lar Ge­orge Massey Tun­nel re­place­ment project.

The Crown agency has asked con­trac­tors to fig­ure out how much they would charge to abruptly stop work on mov­ing two trans­mis­sion lines from in­side the Massey tun­nel to an over­head line near the pro­posed new 10-lane bridge, which was an­nounced five years ago when the Lib­er­als were in power in Vic­to­ria.

Two con­trac­tors are do­ing ground im­prove­ment and deep foun­da­tion work for the new trans­mis­sion line.

Hy­dro said it’s just be­ing pre­pared in case the gov­ern­ment de­cides to scrap plans to build the $3.5-bil­lion bridge.

How­ever, it raises ques­tions about whether Hy­dro, which re­cently had its board and man­age­ment shuf­fled by the NDP, has any in­side knowl­edge of the gov­ern­ment’s in­ten­tions.

“We’ve in­formed our con­trac­tors that, as a pre­cau­tion, we’re pre­par­ing for the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing to sus­pend the cur­rently sched­uled con­struc­tion work and have asked for them to iden­tify costs re­lated to sus­pend­ing their work,” said Hy­dro spokesper­son Mora Scott.

The NDP gov­ern­ment has said it would re­view the fu­ture of the megapro­ject and the party was a sharp critic of the pro­posal while in op­po­si­tion. Pre­mier John Hor­gan has said the bridge is not sup­ported by Metro may­ors, who have other tran­sit projects they want his gov­ern­ment to fund first.

Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Claire Trevena said last week that she had met the may­ors of Delta and Rich­mond, and the head of the Metro Van­cou­ver board to talk about what the gov­ern­ment should do.

“As we com­mit­ted through­out the cam­paign, we want to re­view the project, we want to take into ac­count what the may­ors and lo­cal peo­ple think about the project and pos­si­bil­i­ties,” Trevena said.

“We ac­knowl­edge there is a big prob­lem of con­ges­tion through­out the (High­way) 99 cor­ri­dor, but we want to find the best so­lu­tion and that’s what we’ve been do­ing is tak­ing our time…”

So far, around $70 mil­lion has been spent on engi­neer­ing work, geotech­ni­cal work, public con­sul­ta­tion, land pro­cure­ment and site clear­ing, in­clud­ing work for the fu­ture widen­ing of High­way 99, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion. These con­tracts wrap up in Septem­ber, and then there’s a pause un­til Oct. 24. That’s the dead­line to pick the win­ning pro­posal among three short­listed com­pa­nies. The un­suc­cess­ful teams get $2 mil­lion each.

“We want to re­view the project, we want to take into ac­count what the may­ors and lo­cal peo­ple think ...” — Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Claire Trevena

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