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Fixed-link advocates propose alternate option

Third Crossing Society maps out new route to connect Powell River and coastal communities
Third Crossing
ROAD CONNECTION: A new highway being proposed by Third Crossing Society [Ashlu River route] would connect Powell River to Squamish by bridging Jervis Inlet. A preliminary estimate by the group puts the cost of the megaproject at $1 billion. Contributed graphic

Third Crossing Society is not giving up on its dream of a road that connects Powell River to Squamish.

The group has a new idea for a new highway, according to society president Gary Fribance.

The plan includes building a bridge over Jervis Inlet and constructing a deep-sea port near St. Vincent Bay near Hotham Sound.

“An extension of the port of Vancouver is what we're looking at,” said Fribance. “We don't know if [Vancouver Fraser Port Authority] has an appetite for this or not, but we're investigating and our investigations are not anywhere near complete. It's just really starting.”

According to senior engineers with a firm Fribance would not name, it is possible to build a 1.5-kilometre suspension bridge across the narrowest point on Prince of Wales Reach near the bottom of Jervis Inlet.

“Instead of going around Jervis Inlet at its head, we could cross it,” said Fribance. “The route would start near Brackendale, but ascend the Ashlu Forest Service Road, cross a short 1,311-metre summit and descend the Vancouver River, cross Jervis and follow the west side of Hotham Sound and St Vincent Bay to Highway 101 near Saltery Bay.”

Fribance said with Vancouver Fraser Port Authority planning for future capacity, a major port infrastructure at St. Vincent Bay would be an economic driver for both BC and Canada.

In December 2017, the RF Binnie and Associates report commissioned by the previous Liberal provincial government studied four-fixed link options that would connect the Lower Mainland with the Sunshine Coast, including Third Crossing Society’s previous proposal.

In it, the society envisioned connecting Vancouver Island to Alberta via the Trans-Canada Highway by upgrading existing logging roads, tunnelling through Mount Casement and adding new road construction.

The Binnie report concluded the options were technically possible but were without enough financial benefit to recommend proceeding.