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Archives: Queen opens Deas Island Tunnel

This day in history: July 15, 1959

While on a royal visit to Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth II officially opens the 657-metre-long Deas Island Tunnel under the Fraser River, which had actually been in operation since May 23.

The four-lane tunnel was built in a dry dock in six sections, which were then floated downstream and then lowered by ballast to the riverbed. Each section was 101 metres long and weighed 8,390 kilos.


The project costed $21-million — $6 million over budget — and drivers who previously had to use a 16-car ferry paid 50 cents to drive through it. It remains the only road tunnel below sea level in the country.

In 1967, the tunnel was renamed the George Massey Tunnel in honour of the Social Credit MLA who had lobbied to get it built. Last year the B.C. Liberal government announced plans for a 10-lane bridge to replace the tunnel.