Binnie to Study Sunshine Coast Fixed Link

LNG ships photos    These ships must cross under a bridge or over a tunnel/concrete pipe

LNG Carriers should have about 150 ft air clearance minimum.  length about 1200 ft, beam abt 145 ft and draft laden upto 55 ft.  LNG safety

A fixed link, fixed crossing, or bridge–tunnel is a persistent, unbroken road or rail connection across water that uses some combination of bridges, tunnels, and causeways and does not involve intermittent connections such as drawbridges or ferries.[1]

The Confederation Bridge was commonly referred to as “The Fixed Link” by residents of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island prior to its official naming.

Why did the ferry corp want to move the Nanaimo ferry out of Horseshoe Bay ?  The terminal can not handle the Bowen, Nanaimo and Langdale traffic, and in need of a major re-fit to a tune of several $100’s of M.

This with re-fit of Langdale Terminal, building new ferries and operating them, could pay for a Howe Sound Fixed Link !

Are we against the ferries ?   No, we do need ferries all over this coast, more and better service than now. Also fast passenger only ferries.

Undersea tunnel – Bridge ?   A bridge will usually cost less, but not practical for longer crossings. Both are cost saving compared with operating ferries.

Distance ?   Port Mellon to proposed crossing : 21 KM

I love the internet – one can find everything one want or not wanted to know !

A ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale burn about 1500 liter of diesel fuel, and marine engines are not environmental friendly as most new car engines.

Ferries makes about 6500 trips pr. year to Langdale. A bridge or tunnel can save 5 M. liter pr. year. That alone is a large environmental footprint, that can help make the earth greener.

In 2014 the ferries moved to Langdale 533 699 vehicles, and from Langdale 538 665 if I read it right. These are figures to base a bridge or tunnel feasibility study.

At construction cost figures from the internet, it would pay back in 12,5 years at $ 20 pr. trip across. Without looking at the ca. 5 % annual increase in traffic. Use that advantage to let pensioners, students, handicap and sport teams travel for free.

A vehicle can have any amount of passengers, pull a boat or camper, same price.

The “Burnaby” and “Nanaimo” must be replaced very soon, at about 1.1 M. each. The “Coquitlam” does not have many years left either.

The cost of maintaining a bridge or a tunnel is nothing compared to the cost of running a ferry. Travel the world  and you will see. We should be in front, not slugging behind.

Paul had a series of questions:

What are the best routes for a crossing ? – There are 3 alternatives. Horseshoe Bay – Bowen Island – bridge to Paisley, the small islands and Keats to downtown Gibsons.  A spectacular route, but costly and you end up downtown Gibsons, but how to get a 4 lane highway through there.

Bowen to Gambier, and on to Langdale area, two deep-sea crossings, but crown land available to finance parts. Much opposition expected.

The best choise is therefore Porteau Cove area, the only shallow in the Howe Sound. There you have 3 choices type of crossing. If the rock formation under water is stable, a tunnel would be good, a bridge would be less costly. The in between is a partly submerged concrete pipe. All fine solutions. All keeping the sea lanes to Squamish and Woodfibre open, all with no ecological impact.

What is the cost of each ? – I have only looked at the cost for the Porteau Cove crossing. Using average bridge and tunnel cost found on internet ca: $ 250 M. The two first alternatives would be more. But, it is not always the least costly that is the best.

Would this be an appropriate extension of Trans Canada ? – Yes, any of these would be, Trans Canada now ends in Horseshoe Bay, and the whole Sunshine Coast is a natural part of the Mainland.

Another reason is that this would provide he natural connection to mid Vancouver Island, that is in the true Trans Canada Spirit.

What traffic level is anticipated over 20 years ? – I have only looked at the BC Ferries traffic.For excample the number of vehicles from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay in 20 14 was 533.699, ant the other way about 30.000 more. They have an average of over 5 % annual increase. Over 20 years that would be a 100 % increase. But of course we have to have industry, business, residents and a reasonable economy to sustain life on the coast.

What level of toll would be appropriate ? –  I looked at the BC Ferries numbers, the construction cost that are available on the internet, some 2002 and some 2007 $, and without use of the increased of 5 % every year, you look at 12,5 year pay back of the crossing at 20 $ each way. Not including the 21 Km. 4 lane to Port Mellon at $ 420 M.

In total a much smaller project than the Coquihalla.

Would a government subsidy be required beyond the toll income ? – Not at all, only to get it kick started. This is an ideal project, financed by toll alone. With a sideline of benefits that can only be imagined. Vancouver has no more industrial land, and not much residential. This will open up a new world. And in addition recreational land, much-needed now and for the future. Once construction is completed, it will be maintained by Highways.

How much rail and truck traffic might be generated ? – The truck traffic will be the normal flow and increase as the coast prosper, and an easier route to mid and north Vancouver Island will be available. The rail will be totally independent. They will finance and build their part of the structure. They will have first priority to get the grades suitable for rail to Port Mellon. As the Deep sea Port of Port Mellon get more customers, like grain elevators, etc. Yes, rail and truck traffic from Vancouver area will increase on The Sea to Sky and over to Port Mellon, but the Sunshine Coast beyond will not see any increase.

How much economic impact will there be for the Coast ? How much time do you have Paul ? This is the question we all should be pondering now. The coast, and that includes the north end, Powell River, is the best place to live and work in North America, if we only can sustain some sosio-economic life.

Not possible while served by ferries. Main industries, business, tourism, retirement, fisheries, logging, mining, aquaculture, farming,  and with a connector we can do all these and so much more. The coast is also blessed with many artist, painters, writers and professionals that would benefit greatly from the connection.

I predict that the local governments would have a hard time filling and servicing the demand of industrial, residential and recreational demand. And no more empty stores on main streets, that would be nice.

Remember, the closeness ties to Mid and North Vancouver Island will also grow, and for stage two of this project we should have a fixed link to the Island, what would that do ?

What industries would grow to provide new local employment ? Another good question Paul. Every industry would grow from a fixed link. Of course we have now lost our paper mill part in Howe Sound, and it will never come back. Forestry is a mainstay, but we can not live on shipping logs and chips overseas. We would now be competitive for speciality mills, kiln drying specialty products, hardwoods, pre-fabs etc. Because we would only be a truckload away from the lower mainland market. As a matter of fact, they would come up here and establish, they are squished out of the area they are now.

Expanding the deep-sea port facilities of Port Mellon area could generate much-needed job opportunities with each commodity coming or going through the port. Many of these would be mowed out of the Vancouver port, and benefitting them and us, they get valuable downtown waterfront, we get jobs.

I know we are also ready for another aquaculture industry, this time it will be seaweeds, kelp and plankton.

Would the local governments support this initiative ? – They have no other choise. Coast people have been asking for a road to Squamish for ever. This is even better, only half way and you cross over to Vancouver side. Business is suffering, stores, banks, gas stations are closing, people are leaving. Some old timers might still say: “We have found this place, we want no more people.” When they need professional services they have to move, because our communities can not support everything we want and should have. This is a winner for all governments.

Below are some stats that will scare all, including the elected.

Here are some alarming stats:  (I quote)

The most attractive workforce ( those aged 25 – 44) has declined by 44 % in 25 years.

Young families with children declined drastically ( 39 % decrease of children aged 1 – 14)

These are largely a result of the diminishing forestry, fishing and mining activity over the last 25 years.

Note: These figures does not include upper Sunshine Coast, Powell River, and does not take into fact that with the paper-mill shut down in Port Mellon we lost another 180 full time jobs.  Build that bridge now !


9 Responses to FAQ

  1. brilang says:

    I’m afraid that the economics of a fixed link, once analyzed, will make building a bridge seem like a very bad idea.

    First some facts (or approximations as best I can):
    The Sunshine Coast permanent population is no more than 30,000 people. This is an estimate as I can’t find an accurate figure for the population of the Sunshine Coast. From the Wikipedia pages of the larger communities in the southern half of the Sunshine Coast, I come up with about 22,000. I’ve rounded up significantly. I’ve left off the northern half of the Sunshine Coast as that will require another bridge somewhere and I haven’t had time to look at where it could go.

    Second, we know how much highways and bridges cost at present in BC. The cost of a 2 km bridge (Port Mann) and 37 km of widening from 4-lane freeway to 6-8 lane freeway was $3.3 billion dollars. The length of the shortest bridge required to link to the Sunshine Coast is about 2.4 km. The length of new highway required to link this spot (near Furry Creek) to Gibsons is abour 30 km and will require many bridges and/or tunnels. This would including upgrading the existing road between Port Mellon and Gibsons to highway standards.

    A bridge to the Sunshine Coast would not need to be 10 lanes wide. It would probably only need to be 2-3 lanes with the option to add a second 2-3 lane bridge deck in the future. Such a bridge will likely cost as much as the Port Mann though as it needs to be built to withstand higher speed winds funneling through Howe Sound, as well as resist the corrosive influence of salt water.

    A new highway from Gibsons to a point opposite Furry Creek should be 3 or 4 lanes like the Sea to Sky highway with passing/climbing lanes as necessary. The biggest challenge with a highway on the Sunshine Coast side of Howe Sound is that it needs to be blasted out of some very steep hillsides. The amount of highway required can be reduced by building two bridges instead of one, but that would require two, 2 km bridges (via Anvil Island). Shorter routes via Keats, Gambier and/or Bowen Island are unlikely as they would have the additional costs of acquiring land from reluctant island dwellers, as well as bulldozing a route through the wealthy Whytecliffe neighbourhood of West Vancouver. I doubt that would ever happen.

    I’m going to hazard a guess that the cost to build a bridge near Furry Creek, plus 30 km of new highway, will exceed the cost of the Port Mann Bridge project. And it would only serve a community of 30,000 people. And that’s where the economics of such a project ultimately fail. Even if tolled at a rate half that of the ferry, it would never pay for itself. Assuming the project cost 3.3 billion (it will be more), the cost per capita of the region being served would be $110,000. Amortized over 30 years, plus interest… We’d be looking at a cost of around $7400 per Sunshine Coast resident per year for 30 year – just to build it. Not including any maintenance costs.

    I just don’t see how a bridge-based route will ever be built.

    • Oddvin says:

      Thank you, over time you will find all the answers here on this homepage.The main thing is that we on this coast, are also the important link to mid Vancouver Island, via the Comox ferry.

    • PWCC says:

      I think you are missing some key assumptions in your argument.

      The first and most obvious is that the road would replace the current Langdale ferry, which is running a multimillion operating loss and will do so well into the future. This cost savings should be factored in, as well as capital cost / depreciation savings that would be required over time.

      The are collateral benefits for BC Ferries as well. This project would potentially allow them to kill the money-losing Duke Point – Tsawassen run and move that traffic (such as it is) to the Horseshoe Bay – Nanaimo route. It may also reduce the cost / necessity of the $200M upgrade that BCF says is necessary in Horseshoe Bay. However, I’d like to see more details about how much the congestion issue would be alleviated by eliminating the Langdale ferry — it’s possible it’s very helpful and possible that its’ not helpful at all.

      The assumption of 30,000 people is naive. There is no doubt that the (Lower) Sunshine Coast would be made much more attractive by this project and I would expect the population to increase greatly over a few decade time horizon. (This is a consequence of the project with which proponents will also have to get comfortable). In addition, as you know, there are many second homes in the area (and would be more if the project were undertaken) and these will also drive demand for the bridge and pay its tolls. There’s no reason to restrict the analysis to permanent residents — the toll gets paid by whoever drives over it, regardless of where they live.

      How much do you think the Crown land where the Langdale ferry terminal now sits would be worth if developed and sold? $50 million? More? It would be a lot. This is in addition to much other Crown land whose value would be greatly enhanced by the bridge project. This would help to offset the upfront cost of the project.

      All this said I don’t see the mid-Island bridge as being realistic in the medium term. Highway 101 is in no condition to handle the traffic that would make such a bridge economic and would have to be greatly widened and straightened from Gibsons all the way to Powell River. Obviously, you’d need a second bridge to Saltery Bay as well, which is feasible but would definitely add to the costs. And then the mid-Island bridge would still have to jump quite a ways across the Salish Sea and would face quite challenging engineering (and corresponding costs). And then you’d only end up in the Comox area, which is about 3 hours from Victoria. Remember, half of the Island’s population lives south of the Malahat and Powell River would be a couple hours drive north from the Lower Mainland, even if all of the above were undertaken. It’s not clear to me that this much of a trek by road could really replace the ferry connection between the population centres of the Lower Mainland and the Saanich peninsula. Given the enormous cost to build such a bridge, that likely makes it a deal-breaker.

    • Dawn Adaszynski says:

      You are forgetting about the 20,000 people who live in Powell River and surrounding area, who will benefit from having to catch only 1ferry, that should alter your figures by 40%. You are forgetting to factor in tourism and you are forgetting that all goods (milk, computers, fridges, oranges, building supplies, toilet paper etc) has to be barged in.

  2. Sandy Hegyi says:

    The 30,000 resident number won’t be an issue if the ferry traffic from Horseshoe Bay – Nanaimo was rerouted to Roberts Creek – Nanaimo. Twice as many boats working a route that is1\3 shorter would make getting to the Island at lot easier and pay off the bridges a lot faster.

  3. Gordon says:

    I live in Powell River which has an estimated population of 22000. As mentioned earleer our population has declined but the really noticeable change is the average age. Fewer young families ( only 1 high school now but 2 earlier and several primary school closures.

    A BRIDGE TO THE LOWER SUNSHINE COAST WOULD assist in bringing more tourists further north and I favour the rout to port Mellon via Porteau cove but another problem remains and that is how does the traffic congestion in Seschelt get resolved?

  4. Williams says:

    Your math is way off. Government figures indicate construction costs at about 2 billion. Currently about 1,070,000 vehicles per year on the ferry. With a $20 toll, the total annual revenue would be $21,400,000. Ignoring interest the payback period would be 93 years, not 12.5 years.

    • Oddvin says:

      You are right. but my proposal is a simple crossing at Porteau Cove, using the only shallow in Howe Sound, at a fraction of the cost. Most of the crossing will be a causeway or a viaduct, with a short bridge, tunnell, or my choice; a concrete pipe, to enable ship traffic in the narrow shipping lane.
      The cost estmate above was also just for the actual crossing. Not including 16,2 km. road with 3 short tunnells, instead of building roads hanging outside of the cliffs, like some of the Sea to Sky. and two bridges at Potlach and McNab Creek, to Port Mellon at $ 420 M.
      A Fixed Link would double the traffic, or more, then the figures would match. Note the Comox increased ferry traffic, used by mid and north Vancouver Island, they would save two ferries.
      But I agree, two Golden Gate bridges over Anvil is not viable, too costly and not a pretty sight.

  5. Pingback: Cost of a Fixed Link | Sunshine Coast Connector

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