I live on the Peninsula, but have a farm in the Cowichan Valley which I often commute to. The Malahat is a dangerous and unpredictable drive, with frequent delays and closures. I’ve experienced driving past an overturned trailer within minutes of it happening.
The ferry system is operating beyond capacity with frequent long waits and frequent weather closures.
A solution that would address both issues would be to construct: a two-kilometre bridge across Satellite Channel from Swartz Bay to Salt Spring Island, and a half-kilometre bridge at Sansum Narrows, just below Bold Bluff Point, across from Stoney Hill Park. There is an existing road network on both sides. You could then relocate the main ferry terminal from Swartz Bay to Long Harbour, reducing the trip to Tsawwassen by 20 km.
For an investment for a few kilometres of bridges and some road network upgrades, four ferry routes would be eliminated (Mill Bay, Fulford Harbor, Vesuvius, and Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, which would be replaced with the existing Long Harbour to Tsawwassen route). The travel distance connecting Victoria to Vancouver would be reduced from 60 km to 40 km, taking approximately half an hour off of the sailing time, reducing wait times and congestion.
To put this into perspective, the Confederation Bridge connecting P.E.I. to New Brunswick is 13 km, servicing a population of 155,000. This would be a three-km bridge investment to significantly reduce travel time and improve safety for a Vancouver Island population of 850,000.
I feel the other Malahat bypass options being discussed are a waste of money, as they only succeed in adding redundancy into the road network and don’t reduce travel time, nor provide drivers with a real alternative route. My proposal has the benefit of shortening travel times for many commuters, improving supply chain security, and taking traffic off the Malahat, making the Malahat drive safer.