Bridge should be functional, affordable

Re: Craigflower bridge design considered, News, Dec. 9, 2011.

Re: Craigflower bridge design considered, News, Dec. 9, 2011.

Jim Hemstock’s claim that all the design options that Saanich and View Royal presented for the new Craigflower-Gorge bridge are equal in cost could be misunderstood.

From discussion with an architect at the Dec. 7 show-and-tell session, I understand that the under-structure of the curved design is the lowest cost but the top is logically more expensive due to the curvature.

Thus there is a lower cost possibility than was presented — that under-structure in a straight bridge.

In your Dec. 9, 2011 story, Hemstock seems to be saying that elements can be mixed and matched to a substantial extent.

So I ask why we aren’t presented with proper cost options? Without cost estimates, the supposed public input process is fundamentally flawed.

Government should be building a functional bridge for a long future.

It should be four lanes wide plus a multi-use surface on each side for pedestrians, bicyclists and people using mobility aids. The multi-use surface would provide for passing of strollers and wheelchairs, and fishing for the limited time that can be done each year.

I suggest that ample width can be achieved by combinations of combining non-motor-vehicle surfaces, purchasing slices of adjacent properties from the The Land Conservancy and school board, and moving the old school (whose foundation is not original anyway).

Any additional cost should be paid for by the primary beneficiaries of the bridge — Esquimalt with the navy base and the tribal lands with the cement plant.

Modern construction looks fine, whereas the ugly old bridge reflects limitations of materials available three-quarters of a century ago.

Heritage enthusiasts may disagree, but they strike me as people living in the past while not learning from it, people who want to use government force to impede future generations.

In my opinion there is risk of technical and construction problems, and construction delays if government focuses time and money on appearances instead of ensuring function.

Keith Sketchley

Saanich