It is ironic in the extreme that Mr. Gardner was employed in the very Premier's office that went ahead with the reckless decision to proceed with the $16 billion and counting Site C dam, when what was really needed in the Peace was a new Taylor Bridge.
Local residents and representatives had identified the Taylor Bridge as a vital link that needed replacing prior to 2014. The bridge has seen a need for constant maintenance since the allowance of 16/24 wheel and multi-line trailers with extraordinary loads being permitted to travel in the area. As the bridge is a girder beam design where tires travel on top of the girders, the offset of the 16/24 wheel and multi-line trailers flexes the deck to a point where maintenance needs multiply.
With over a billion of the now $16 billion and counting Site C budget being spent on the needless relocation of only about 32 kilometres of Highway 29 and five major bridges, it is understandable that a Lower Mainland-focused provincial government will not spend precious funds on further road and bridge upgrades in an area already seeing grotesque overspending on roads and bridges.
As mentioned, it is interesting that Mr. Gardner and his ICBA are now concerned about the Taylor Bridge when it was not a priority when he was in a position to do something about it and natural gas revenues were in the $2 billion to $2.5 billion a year range.
Residents were clear: we needed a bridge and BC Hydro ratepayers did not need the Site C dam. Locals accurately forecast geotech problems that have driven costs to unaffordable levels. Unfortunately BC residents will be stuck with higher power bills thanks to the persistence of the government of the day needing to accelerate spending to get it "past the point" of no return — $16 billion of additional debt now certainly makes the Site C dam look more uneconomic than it ever was.
Remember that the BC Liberals deliberately bypassed the BCUC to push forward with a project that was not needed, too expensive, and too environmentally destructive. A business case never did exist — unlike the Taylor Bridge, which had a very clear business case for replacement.
There is no doubt the Taylor Bridge needs replacing, however it is not likely to occur any time soon as the BC NDP government won't be looking north for votes and the highways budget is blown. Mr. Gardner will get to know how it feels to talk to a government that isn't listening and maybe should have pushed for necessary infrastructure upgrades rather than party-driven vanity initiatives.
— Bob Fedderly, Fort St. John
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