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Bridge allows for business off island | Letter
A week ago I wrote a letter giving suggestions for improving commerce on Pioneer Way. My last suggestion, given tongue in cheek, was to shut down Deception Pass Bridge to vehicle traffic.
A couple online comments suggested I need a psychiatric evaluation as the bridge is the reason for commerce in Oak Harbor.
If the bridge is the reason Oak Harbor remains viable, why do we have a higher rental vacancy rate than communities on the other side of the bridge? Why do we have store closures left and right? Why do more people go off island for medical care than come to Whidbey for medical care?
I contend that more commerce leaves the island than is returned due to the bridge.
The Navy doesn’t need the bridge to survive. It is self contained and anything the Navy doesn’t have could be offered up by the local community.
In fact, the Navy base would be more secure with only one way in and one way out. One of the reasons for having the Navy here is to help the local commerce.
The bridge, however, allows Navy personnel to go off island for housing and shopping.
On a personal note – I live 10 minutes north of Oak Harbor, but I do 80 percent of my shopping off island as there is more to offer a shopper in the Mount Vernon/Burlington area.
If you don’t believe me, just count the Canadian license plates in that area vs. Oak Harbor.
Ten percent of my shopping is online. The other 10 percent is done in Oak Harbor to supplement my groceries or to go to the few businesses that I really like. I can’t imagine that folks off the island would do 80 percent of their shopping in Oak Harbor because there is a bridge. That’s not going to happen, sorry. But it happens the other way.
We all know the bridge will stay open to vehicle traffic as long as it is safe for it to allow it. But the misconceived notion that the bridge brings commerce into Oak Harbor is just that – misconceived.
The only reason Oak Harbor has the economy it has is due to the Navy base – and that has nothing to do with a bridge.
The bridge is a classic, “if you build it they will come.” But, in Oak Harbor’s case, it’s “if you build it they will go.”