Opinion: A bridge at last

A source of endless frustration for both residents and visitors to our community received some welcome relief last week.

A source of endless frustration for both residents and visitors to our community received some welcome relief last week.

After years of discussion, three levels of government came together to finance a new bridge over the Vedder River. (See story here.)

That the project draws support from federal and provincial governments makes sense. Vedder Crossing has a regional significance that warrants participation by taxpayers beyond Chilliwack’s municipal borders. It is the perfect example of a “shovel-ready” joint, tri-level infrastructure project. (Property has been acquired, initial design work done, and municipal participation budgeted.)

The bridge proposal has drawn some criticism for its design. Some say replacing a two-lane bridge with a two-lane bridge is short-sighted and won’t relieve the chronic congestion at the crossing.

However, a four-lane bridge is not needed. What’s needed is a more efficient design that provides better traffic flow. Wider lanes and the replacement of the three-way stop with a roundabout will deliver those improvements.

A four-lane bridge would be as intrusive and expensive as it would be unnecessary.

Critics, too, have pointed to the timing. True, this is an election year. And yes, the City has been pressing for federal involvement for years only to see the funds released just months before Chilliwack voters go to the polls.

However, supporting significant infrastructure projects is what federal governments – whatever their stripe – are supposed to do. That it should come in an election year might provide tantalizing optics, but we like to think voters are a bit more sophisticated than that.