Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Well, the truth is that the waters are not troubled, the bridge is. Our iconic Johnson Street Bridge. Lovely blue icon that says Victoria. Originally opened for business in 1924, it has stood there and served the community of the lower island for more that 80 years. 80 years is a respectable age, time to retire her. Retire or replace has been bandied around for the past 5 or so years, what is the question here?

The entire structure of the bridge has been subject to 8 decades of corrosion, plate tectonics, heavy trucks and occasionally being run into by some ship. The bridge has served us well, it is time to replace. Yes, we could dump $25 million into her and keep her going another 10 years, maybe. Yes the current estimate says $70 million but what does that higher amount get us? New engineering for one. Our knowledge of how the earth moves and how to counter the effects of the earth moving is far greater than it was 80 years ago. We will get new materials, materials that are not old and brittle and that have been subject to the pollution and corrosion of 8 decades. We will get a bridge that will last another 80 years instead of spending a third of the amount to patch up the old one.

A miracle happened (IMO), city council said "New Bridge". Great, one hurdle out of the way. Next hurdle is what to make the bridge look like/do. The current bridge has a single track rail bridge beside it to accommodate the old E&N rail line. A large part of the traffic woahs of this region stem from the lack of mass transit, or the lack of support for mass transit. The old E&N rail line was not used nearly as well as it could have been, thus it became something to ignore and now it is unusable. The city planners have decided that there will be no rail link across the new bridge. What are these people on? Anyone with any vision can see that at the very least the Johnson Street bridge is the south end of the Galloping Goose trail. During the morning and evening commute several hundred bicyclist use this trail to get into and out of Victoria. That is several hundred cars that are not on the street, several hundred parking spots not being filled, several hundred hunks of metal between you and where you want to be. People on bike used that rail bridge, keeping the road bridge clearer for cars. And now that will be gone.

If the time for mass transit between down town and the western communities never comes, at the very least, make it possible for something to be created and put into use. Put a mass transit bridge beside the new bridge. Even if all you do is put the bridge deck down and make it usable for bikes and people to walk on. Doing so now is a better use of everyone's tax dollars because it is far far cheaper to put the structure in now and not use it then it will be to retrofit a link later on when it becomes an absolute necessity. Putting a single track bridge beside the main bridge and leaving it as a bike or walking path will cost a minor faction of what it will cost to put something in ten years from now. It just may encourage more people to bike, taking more cars off the road.

New Bridge? Check.
Making proper use of our resources? Still working on it, keep your fingers crossed

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