British Columbia has an excellent set of detailed guidelines that shepherd planners of large projects through different phases.
There are seven steps to these guidelines and they are outlined in a Project Development Life Cycle document. Step 4, Option Generation & Assessment, contains a very important step called Multiple Accounts Evaluation (MAE). In common language, this means doing due diligence when assessing the options available.
BACA followed these guidelines when putting forward the case last year that a fixed link is the best option at Galena Bay.
We have determined that a fixed link there would cost no more than building a new ferry and running it for 25 years.
BACA has done the homework needed to examine in detail what the MAE mandates. It is all part of our Business Case document. It is available on our website: www.arrowbaca.ca.
Copies of them were given to the Ministry of Transportation (MoT) after a detailed three-hour presentation last year.
We have explained our case to others, BC Hydro, Village of Nakusp, CBT, Federal and Provincial Politicians.
It is truly unfortunate that the MoT did not follow their own guidelines when they went through the project development of the new $26.5 million ferry.
The MoT estimated $10 to $15 million tops for the new ferry. Our estimate was $29.8 million in 2011 and it looks like we will be quite accurate. At the time the MoT scoffed at our new ferry estimate but just like the rest of the BACA business case we felt it was accurate and realistic.
We recommended that the fixed link option be chosen because it makes more sense from all the five points in the MAE: Financial, Customer Service, Social/Community, Environmental and Economic.
MoT is fond of saying that the fixed link would cost hundreds of millions. This is simply incorrect.
The government’s own report done by ND Lea, Buckland, Taylor in 2004 estimates $152 million for the Storm Point bridge and causeway crossing plus $33 million for road approaches.
Since then, BACA has proposed a shallower location for the crossing and other options.
In a letter to us last month, the MoT stated: “With the estimates in the hundreds of millions of dollars the ministry determined that it was not economically feasible to pursue a fixed link.” The ND Lea, Buckland & Taylor report totals $185 million.
From the financial point of view alone, the bottom line is that a fixed link makes the best option if you consider a 25 year period, adding the $26.5 million new ferry construction budget to the annual operating costs of $5 million for the first year and escalating each year. The other benefits of a fixed link are enormous.
This is not the first time that decisions were made based on weak information and a lack of due diligence. BACA will continue to work to a final and successful conclusion that will see a fixed link at Beaton Arm.
Beaton Arm Crossing Association