I've always enjoyed driving through the tunnel. As kids, it was always the challenge to hold your breath across the span, which I could never do. Guess that's why I'm such a lousy swimmer! I get the romance of the tunnel.
It's a unique crossing, it has been part of our lives for a long time. It is always fascinating seeing it from the air - cars disappear, only to reappear on the other side.
There are tunnels all over the world that carry traffic or trains. Just ask Boston - they dug up the entire city to put in more tunnels in the Big Dig. But all things change, and I think we have to say goodbye to our tunnel before the tunnel says goodbye for us.
I remember the 2001 Nisqually quake in Washington State. I had never felt any of our local quakes before, but I felt that one. The water sloshed in my sink, the pictures banged against the wall. It wasn't that powerful when it reached us, but enough to open my eyes about the sandbox we live on.
I was speaking with a neighbour who was working downtown that day. He was on the phone with his wife when it hit. He asked if she felt the shaking, which she didn't, at least right away. After about 15 seconds, she felt it. After it stopped for him, the ground was still moving where she was.
He was downtown, on a solid base of rock. She was in Boundary Bay, on sand. It seems the sand acted like a shock absorber, until it caught up to the rest of the movement. It was then I really understood how liquefaction would impact us in South Delta.
I sure hope I'm not in the tunnel if and when that happens. Lousy swimmer, remember? There is a real war of words between Delta and Richmond these days. Politicians fighting over options, producing reports that say one thing or another. One thing I know, few of these people making this decision will be around when something happens.
If they are wrong, they aren't held accountable. All they really owe anyone at that time is a simple response, "Oops!" I'm no engineer, so I rely on what they have to say. Granted, they may be speculating on the impacts, safety and cost, but I trust them a lot more than what I could come up with myself. If I have to choose between them and public opinion, sorry folks, I'm sticking with the engineers.
I've read the summary report prepared for Delta council, and it seems to make sense. I also read a summary of the response report from Richmond, which said a tunnel at roughly the same cost, but it didn't seem to have any independent engineering reports behind it, at least from what I read.
The big complaint seems to be that building a bridge would just transfer traffic to the Oak Street Bridge. To a certain extent, yes. It seems people have forgotten that bridges have two directions - it also clears traffic out of Richmond just as fast. Especially if the highway is widened, which it appears is underway.
Sadly, I think it's time to say goodbye to the tunnel.
I've been holding my breath long enough.
Brad Sherwin, MBA is a longtime resident of South Delta, and has more than 25 years' experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy.