Myth busters and missing links . . .
In the wake of a convenient “release” of information about costs of the new bridge, some of the facts missing in the story line may help to paint a more complete picture than that offered by those with a more pointed political agenda.
Today’s big myth:
There was never a $35 to $45 million dollar project. Those figures were provided in the condition assessment completed six years ago, proposing a notional budget for a drab, off the shelf bridge to replace the existing structure. The report spelled out, by the way, that the numbers provided should not be used for budgeting purposes.
Council of the day chose a more complete project – one that included on deck bike lanes, an expanded bridge to accommodate the Galloping Goose trail, another, fixed bridge connection to link the Goose to and from the new E&N rail trail, a cantilevered sidewalk to provide better levels of service for pedestrians and those with mobility challenges, and a road realignment to dispense with the “S” curve, which generated an average of 40 reportable collisions a year.
Council also looked for a project that would allow the current bridge to remain open until completion of the new crossing to keep traffic of all sorts flowing between downtown and points west, critical to the health of the city’s economy. One could imagine that those choices would provide a rather different cost picture than those thumbnail estimates.
Journalists covering the story or provincial ministers privy to any city request for funding might have been at least exposed to those rather different project scenarios, even if the implications didn’t sink in. Self-inflicted forgetfulness is always a good strategy, I suppose, but the facts have been there all along.
Council also responded to the less than enthusiastic public response to creating a replica of a cookie cutter highway interchange with a structure that would provide a more aesthetic gateway to bookend the city’s harbour. Past generations of city builders did as much for our heritage; we owe it to future generations not to devalue our city by dropping big box suburban sensibilities into the heart of Victoria.
That project concept, at the very least, was very clearly presented to the public, vigorously challenged by those attached to the old bridge, and, despite protestations to the contrary, Victorians had their say, and voted their approval in a referendum by a substantial margin. The former Minister, to be fair, lives far enough away from the bridge that she wouldn’t have a had a vote to cast in that referendum, so perhaps wasn’t paying attention to the details presented to those who did.
More myth busting to follow. Stay tuned.