|Island Notes: Bahamian Bridges|
|Tuesday, 22 November 2011 07:46|
Since writing this article a contract has been signed to build a bridge between Little and Great Abaco Island and also create a port. This project will delay any thought of a direct Grand Bahama-Abaco connection (and having a port in eastern Grand Bahama to serve Abaco) but the idea of linking the two islands eventually still has validity in the long term.
The Grand Bahama – Abaco Bridge is an idea too controversial to digest at the moment though clearly it would have been very useful in moving people and materials between the two islands in the recent hurricane. You have not heard the last of this idea - but let’s move on.
The Bahamas has many opportunities, imperatives almost, to connect islands together for a host of reasons to do with the greater public good. Besides the GB-AB link there other intra and inter-island links/bridges that are needed in the Bahamas as follows, (listed in approximately descending order of need):
• In the case of the Hawksbill Creek situation, it would guarantee that the western end of Grand Bahama would not be cut off from Freeport during hurricanes and high tides. It would also improve the traffic movement between east and west Grand Bahama.
• One respected Bahamian economist wrote: ‘linking the major islands through bridges, should forge closer ties between The Bahama Islands. It is an idea some critics have shot down, but I feel confident it could help the long-term economic situation in The Bahamas. These islands will not survive without more direct access. Building and other costs are higher because of their remoteness.’
• He might also have added that it gives residents and visitors more choices for work and recreation and, most important, the joined islands would benefit from scale economies and competition which might be evidenced in everything from the cost of daily necessities, to less expensive capital goods, to less costly governance.
• Another advantage is that it gives impetus to extending the electric power grid and telecommunication service to the joined islands. The islands could ‘share’ power in times of need and, as alluded to above, there would be scale economies that should lower the cost of services to the consumer. The possibility of sharing power (possibly derived from sustainable sources) between the islands might indeed be the primary catalyst for such projects to be realised.
• Then imaginative ‘overseas’ inter-island links might be a major tourist attractions much like the highway linking the Florida Keys. When this idea was first discussed with Alexis Nihon and Wallace Groves (two Bahamas-based visionary developers in the 1960’s), Nihon actually obtained publicity for the idea for the GB-AB bridge in European newspapers. One of the results of which was that cruise ship companies at that time asked to be informed of future developments since they saw quite clearly that this could possibly become the major tourist attraction of The Bahamas!
• Inter-island links would generate much employment in the region:
• Another persuasive argument for pursuing these projects would be that more development will result in the subject islands that in turn should encourage internal migration to the new communities that will be created. This in turn would help reduce the growing stress on urban services in New Providence by providing employment in the Family Islands. It would also aid the current ‘anchor’ projects to succeed.
Island Notes is contributed by Peter Barratt, extracted from his new book: "FREEPORT NOTEBOOK”. This new book is, in some ways, supplementary to his other, better-known work, 'GRAND BAHAMA', a text that has gone through three editions and will shortly be published in a new edition. He has some very interesting notes on the early history of Freeport but, he admits himself, he should have taken a correspondence course in poetry writing. Barratt's books are available in Grand Bahama at Oasis drug store, the Rand Nature Centre, Bahamian Tings and the Garden of the Groves shops. In Nassau his books are available at most bookshops on the island.
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