Port on Hotham Sound

would set stage
for new and better route
Bridge over Jervis Inlet key to project

Whatever the old Third Crossing route’s merits, the Binnie Report sounded its death knell, at least for the foreseeable future.

That sounds like bad news, but it really wasn’t, because it cleared the decks for some potentially very good news, which is that a new route, in a much more promising location (see map, left), was already emerging, and the campaign to make it happen is now under way.

Your Society had campaigned for the old route based on a widely held belief that Jervis Inlet was too wide and too deep for a bridge.  Not long ago that was true; today we know that a bridge over Jervis can indeed be built, because similar bridges have been built in China, Japan, and elsewhere (See photo, below left).

The clear span of this bridge at Akashi, Japan is 1.991 km, the length needed at the Jervis crossing.

In discussions with senior representatives of a large international engineering firm last fall, we learned of those other long, clear-span bridges, and when we asked if one could be built over Jervis, the answer was, indeed it could.

This changed everything.  It meant the route could be pushed farther south, to the narrowest point on Jervis (1.5 km) instead of around the end, and make the connection between Highway 99 and the coastal highway in 100 km instead of the old route’s 200.

Most important, though, the narrow point is just north of Hotham Sound, an isolated, protected, deep body of water that has all the physical requirements of a port — an extension of the Port of Vancouver.  This new route would thus serve commerce as well as people, command the attention of government, and provide access to the deep pockets of corporations as well as government, something the old route simply couldn’t do.

Coincidentally, in early March, the federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, announced a review of Canada’s ports to determine their readiness to (a) accommodate the big new Panamax-size freighters that will soon be moving cargo across the Pacific, and (b) compete with other ports such as Seattle and Portland as safe and efficient places to load and offload.

This review is now in its input phase, and we are already in discussions with the other stakeholders – and potential stakeholders — especially the First Nations, on whose traditional lands and waters this potential port would operate.

As with the old, the new route, combined with the Langdale bridge link, would pave the way for a host of savings at BC Ferries that over a period of ten years would cover most if not all the costs of both projects.

For a closer look at the details of the route, click here.

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