I have been reading, with increasing consternation, the ongoing progress of the proposed pedestrian bridge at Sixth Street.
I am not against the idea of supporting pedestrian and bicycle traffic across the river. My problem is that this nice-to-have proposal seems to be taking all the limited staff time and funds away from the urgent requirement for an additional vehicle bridge.
I moved here over 20 years ago. At that time there was an identified need for such a bridge. Since then, resources have been spent studying how to implement the plan, and an excellent technical solution has been found. However, interest groups have effectively stopped any progress.
Meanwhile, the population has continued to grow rapidly: now there is always a line-up to get across both bridges during normal work days. During the run-up to a long weekend or summer travel, the line-up becomes intolerable. The recent upgrade of the 5th Street Bridge highlighted the problem: idling vehicles added many of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, driver frustration increased, and lost person hours at work must have added up well into the thousands as people were delayed. Not very environmentally friendly or helpful to our business community.
Has local government considered that the 17th Street Bridge eventually will need an upgrade? The situation we experienced this last year will be much worse, especially when one considers the expected population growth between now and then.
Given the distances people must travel to shop or work in the Comox Valley, it is unrealistic to expect them to walk or bicycle. These forms of transportation will always be for a very small minority of the population. There are already paths across the existing bridges for non-vehicular traffic. A new vehicle bridge could easily have a bicycle lane built in.
It is time for responsible government to be realistic about its priorities, put the limited resources where they will make the most difference to the most residents of the area, stop listening to the small but vocal interest groups and build a new vehicle bridge.
An excellent plan already exists on where to put the bridge. Please just do it.