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The Cassiar Connector is a highway traffic tunnel on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is located in the north-east corner of Vancouver, British Columbia, near the Vancouver-Burnaby border. Travelling northward, the tunnel begins underneath Adanac Street, passing under the interchange between East Hastings Street and the Highway 1 offramps. It ends underneath Triumph Street, with the highway continuing north to the McGill Street interchange (to the Port of Vancouver) and the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing towards the District of North Vancouver. The tunnel is 730 metres long.
In 1959, the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing (known at the time as the Second Narrows Bridge) was opened to traffic. This was followed in 1964 by the completion of the Trans Canada Highway. However, the portion of the highway passing through Vancouver was not built to highway standards. Instead, it used an existing portion of Cassiar Street, including the intersection of Cassiar and Hastings Street. This meant that traffic on the highway was controlled by a traffic light, contributing to congestion especially during peak periods.
The Cassiar Connector was completed in January 1992; at the time it was described as removing one of the last remaining traffic lights on the Trans Canada Highway and also as the BC Ministry of Transportation's largest project to date. The project upgraded 2.3 km of highway south of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, and involved the construction of 7 new overpasses, 20 retaining walls, a pedestrian bridge, two new interchanges and the Cassiar Tunnel itself which is 730m long. The total cost of construction was estimated to be C$115 million. On January 12, 1992, a Sunday, pedestrians were allowed to roam through the dual tunnels. The next day, it was opened to vehicle traffic, and the Trans Canada highway was diverted to the new route.
In 2005, the British Columbia provincial government introduced an infrastructure plan known as the "Gateway Program". As part of that program, it is proposed to expand the Trans Canada highway through the Cassiar Connector to three lanes in each direction. These lanes are intended to be used primarily for dedicated entry and exit lanes. Because the tunnel was originally designed to have three lanes in each direction, expansion will not be necessary. Gateway has been approved and construction on the freeway expansion has already begun.
- Frontier to Freeway - An Illustrated History of the Roads in British Columbia (see page 18)
- BC Government "Gateway Program Definition Report" (see pg 32)