Bridge Study Terms of Reference

A tweet earlier today from Sheila Malcolmson (@s_malcolmsonalerted us to some of the details in the study Terms of Reference: “Based on the forecast, the consultant should confirm whether a 2 or 4 lane crossing would be required to meet demand in the peak period.”

Four lanes? Would the Gabriola rush hour of Nanaimo-bound commuters seriously require four lanes? Look, Gabriola has 2-lane rural roads and a current population of about 4000 full-time residents. According to government stats on ferry usage, the Quinsam carried 341,000 vehicles in 2013-14. That’s an average of 935 vehicles per day. I find it hard to imagine that this level of usage would require a 4-lane connection.

So: exactly what would be the point of over-engineering a 4-lane bridge—unless you are setting infrastructure in place for a much bigger project? Hm, back to the idea of selling off Duke Point, Departure Bay, and the Nanaimo terminal to Gabriola to build one big ferry terminal on Gabriola…

Or maybe projecting for a big bridge is assuming that there will be a faster rate of growth because of hopes that the island will be opening to development?

With regard to that, the last reference I found said that there are currently 688 undeveloped lots on Gabriola, and even if they were all developed and new residents moved in, is that likely to increase the traffic so much that 4 lanes is required? I don’t think so. Note that the Islands Trust and Community Plan put significant restrictions on island development; although growth is possible, it is limited. As far as I can see, the only way unrestricted growth could produce population numbers requiring a 4 lane bridge would be for the Trust’s protections to be gutted.

But that’s not on the table, right? Right. Of course not.

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