Fixed link idea gets a (brief) new life—again

Lake Washington bridge | BCBusiness
A five-kilometre set of bridges, the world’s longest, cuts across Lake Washington in Seattle.

The bridge-and-tunnel idea gets fresh interest this week after the transportation minister’s about-face on B.C. Ferries service from Lower Mainland to Nanaimo  

Minister of Transport Todd Stone’s flip-flop this week on the possible elimination of service between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo added another footnote in the decades-long debate over construction of a fixed link from the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island. 
Numerous studies exist on the viability of ferry alternatives; in the 1980s alone there were four separate studies, including one by the provincial environment ministry. Among the proposals were a floating pontoon bridge and a submerged floating tunnel, the latter a concept that has, perhaps thankfully, yet to be attempted anywhere.  

While the 26-kilometre distance from Vancouver Island is significantly shorter than the 56-kilometre tunnel under the English Channel or the 42.6-kilometre bridge linking China’s city of Qingdao to the Island of Huangdao, the route poses significant engineering challenges ranging from deep water and extreme wave conditions to heavy ship traffic and marine slope instability. But according to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the foremost challenge would be the cost: an eight-billion-dollar project would require a $555 tariff for a one-way trip to produce a 20 per cent return rate.  
In comparison, the cheapest ticket for shipping a car on the Chunnel train, a distance of 50 kilometres, between Folkestone, United Kingdom, and Calais, France, is currently C$80. But one long-time bridge advocate and former B.C. cabinet minister is adamant (still) that a bridge is an eventuality. “What it takes, said Patrick McGeer, in a Globe and Mail interview last month, “is a government with some imagination.”