Increasing voter turnout and traffic to south Port are behind the call for a crossing over Roger Creek by the Port Alberni Chamber Commerce, interim president Neil Malbon said.
City officials had a cursory meeting with chamber representatives on Thursday.
“This is just the initial meeting about a potential crossing,” Malbon said.
The chamber wants a referendum this fall on construction of a low level second crossing over Roger Creek from 10th Avenue.
“It’s an issue of topical interest for the community and one that the community can have influence over,” Malbon said.
A new connector will encourage more traffic to South Port and will address the long- standing issue of single access into the Valley, Malbon said.
The issue will also jump-start voter apathy. “Good government is getting more people out to vote and this would help improve voter turnout.”
A referendum on the issue was held in 1983.
The result was positive but the project hinged on government funding, which never materialized.
Of a similar referendum without funding this time around, Malbon said “It should indicate to government that this is important to people, and that it should be an item for discussion with the feds and province.”
The issue has been an issue for the 20 years that Guy Cicon has worked here and its part of the city’s long-term transportation plan, he said.
The success of the project will fall on money, need, and environmental impact.
A project of this magnitude will cost several million dollars, all of which will require detailed engineering design and cost estimates, Cicon said.
The election is this fall and “We’re not at that stage yet,” he added.
Population growth and traffic volume will be key considerations in getting on government’s funding radar for a crossing.
“The population hasn’t grown and traffic congestion is debatable so there’s not a growing need,” Cicon said.