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the PROVINCE - June 16, 2006

Tunnel Experts want new look at Bluffs

Frank Luba, The Province
Published: Friday, June 16, 2006

Two international consultants on tunnel design, cost and construction have written to Premier Gordon Campbell criticizing the decision to punch a four-lane overland highway through Eagleridge Bluffs instead of using a tunnel.

The letter from North Vancouver consulting engineer Evert Hoek and professional quantity surveyor Clair Harry Murdock of Vancouver is also endorsed by eight other professional engineers.

In the letter, they say: "Your Transportation Minister has been quoted as saying that the main criteria for his choice of an overland route over a tunnel option are safety and cost and that, on the basis of information available to him, the overland route is both safer and less costly than the tunnel option. We disagree strongly with both of these assessments."

Hoek said yesterday he commented because "as somebody with a background in the field, I had to get out and talk about it."

Hoek's current projects include the Greater Vancouver Regional District's twin tunnels for the Seymour-Capilano water filtration plant and Greece's Egnatia Odos Highway, of which 100 kilometres passes through 75 tunnels.

He puts the cost of a 1.4 kilometre, four-lane twin tunnel under the ecologically-sensitive Eagleridge Bluffs between $84 million and $99 million, not the $200 million Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon has said the project could cost.

Falcon replied to Hoek and Murdock re-affirming the $200 million figure, which Hoek said he can only assume means another $100 million for the road past the tunnel.

Hoek called for a re-assessment of the plan, even though blasting has reportedly begun on the bluffs.

"The ideal for me would be to call a halt and have it looked at," said Hoek. "In terms of the Olympic schedule, there is still the time to do this if it was halted for let's say 60 days."

The Vancouver Province 2006

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