Letter: Response to ‘Bridge’ commentary in recent Sounders

Wednesday, May 22 2019

Have been reading comments, letters and opinions in the past few Sounder issues on the topic of pro/con fixed link bridge and associated issues.

For the record, both, my wife and I are not for a fixed link. However, for those of you new to the island or who haven’t had a chance to read the actual feasibility study prepared by Vancouver’s Engineering Consultant CH2M Hill, here is a download link to their report: (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/driving-and-transportation/reports-and-reference/reports-and-studies/vancouver-island-south-coast/gabriolafixedlink.pdf).

That said, it is interesting to look at the proposed options and their respective engineering challenges.

The one common issue that puzzles me is pertaining to the necessary navigation envelope which consists of a vertical clearance requirement of 23m (75ft) and a horizontal span of 152m (499ft) which pertains to all options.

We live on the north side of the island. However, it would be interesting to hear from local residents if they ever see commercial or recreational vessels transiting False Narrows that require aforementioned vertical and horizontal clearances. Looking at my electronic charts, it shows low mean water levels which are anywhere from less than a metre to three metres depending where in the “navigable” channel. Outlying area of False Narrows is primarily mud and dry through our daily high/low tides.

I, for one, have never seen commercial or recreational traffic larger in scale transiting False Narrows. I am no naval architect, but if any recreational or commercial vessel requires the above stated clearances, they will have other issues to worry about such as a good mud sanding of the hull, keel or both.

To me it doesn’t make sense to retain this type of navigation envelope through a narrows that is marginal at best. 

As stated above, we are not in favour for a fixed crossing. However, there appears to be some criteria in this report which may not be based on practical reality and to apply this navigation envelope to all False Narrow options does not make sense.

Perhaps I am off base with my assumptions and if so, my bad.

~Marc Herrmann