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History

Lions Gate: The Bridge Free Enterprise Built

6. Epilogue

Originally published at About.com - June 7, 1999

The first sod was turned July 7, 1936, two and a half years after they had first filed application with the Federal Government. Two years and $5,700,000 later, the bridge was completed. It opened to traffic in November 1938 and was officially opened May 29, 1939. If it hadn't been for the perseverance of Taylor and his associates, who knows when the bridge would have been built, if at all.

By the 50's, it was evident that another span would be necessary to handle an increasing traffic flow. In November 1954, the First Narrows Bridge Company said it was prepared to build a twin to the existing bridge at a cost of $17,000,000 if the requisite permissions could be obtained. The Provincial Government of W.A.C. Bennett declined approval. One source commented, "If any money is to be made, it should be made for B.C. and not for private interests". 9 No bridge was built, no money was made.

In January 1955 the government moved to purchase the bridge from its private owners. Although it was rumoured that the government would build another span, it never did.

In 1975 the government proceeded to renovate the bridge by replacing the deck with a new lighter, wider deck. At a cost of $ 20,000,000 the approach was widened. The main span was not completed. Wind tunnel tests showed that a new lighter center span would not be as stable as the older span.

In May 1998, the government announced yet another "rehabilitation" of the bridge, this time at a cost of $99.8 million. Work is supposed to get under way this summer.10

So there the Lions Gate Bridge stands today, a Vancouver landmark, beautiful to see, but inadequate for today's traffic volume. The center span is badly in need of repairing, but all that gets done is patch-up jobs. The offer of private interests to alleviate the problem in 1954 was thwarted because the government thought it should be a government enterprise.

But that is precisely what the problem is. Government dithers, worried about costs, or government spends millions on white elephants that are not economically justified. Only private entrepreneurs, building for profit, can have the necessary inputs to decide what is needed and when. Only private entrepreneurs can effectively determine how much cost is justified by potential return. Only private entrepreneurs can do the job that needs to be done.

On the 60th anniversary of the official opening of the Lions Gate Bridge, let's consider returning the initiative for so-called "public" projects to private individuals. Privatize the bridge! Let's again create an atmosphere where men of vision like A.J.T. Taylor have the freedom to pursue great achievements.

Prologue | Opening Moves | The Vancouver Plebiscite

"Bennett's Private Blockade" | Endgame | Epilogue | Footnotes

Other Links of Interest

Lions Gate Bridge - A short history of the Lions Gate Bridge from the West Vancouver Municipal Library. Includes excellent photos of the bridge under construction.

The Secret History of the Lions Gate Bridge - an article at Inside vancouver

Vancouver Archives - The city archives contain a wealth of historical information but you have to pay to access it.

Pacific Outlook - Get a limited edition print of Max Jacquiard's Pacific Outlook, a painting showing the Royal Hudson steam locomotive chugging underneath the Lions Gate Bridge.

 

Contents copyright Marco den Ouden       All Rights reserved
Typewriter graphic courtesy Stockfreeimages.com