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Archive for July 25th, 2012

Vancouver unveils plan to replace viaducts

with 9 comments

The Sun headline is a bit longer but I really do not like the term ‘super road’. In fact what the City Engineer is now proposing is a new network with several significant additions. Sadly the story does not come with a map or a link to the presentation council heard yesterday.

new road network proposed to replace the viaducts

The new road network proposed to replace the viaducts – taken from the staff presentation to Council

The important point – and the one that needs to be reiterated for all those people who commented here (and elsewhere) about the impact on traffic – is that the viaducts are not necessary.

“The viaducts were built at a time and in a context that made sense,” said Kevin McNaney, the city’s assistant director of planning. “They crossed industrial land, which no longer exists, they were built to be part of a freeway system, which was never built, and they were built to a capacity that we can never achieve. So the question for council over the coming months and this coming fall, is: ‘Is there a better, more coherent vision, and how can we get there?’”

The viaducts were built in the 1960s to carry as many as 1,800 vehicles an hour. But less than half that number use the viaducts now and that amount is declining as improvements to public transportation are made, Dobrovolny said.

Which is pretty much the stance I took from the start. Indeed what is really different is that the “viaducts could be demolished almost immediately, paving the way for new housing and a neighbourhood park system, if the plan is approved by council this fall”. That is much better than the original idea that it could take at least 15 years, and is what I was calling for.

Improved Pedestrian and Bicycle Connections

Improved Pedestrian and Bicycle Connections

To summarize what is now being proposed

  • a new road from Pacific Boulevard that connects to Prior, Main and Quebec Streets.
  • Georgia Street extended to Pacific down a 5% grade
  • Westbound vehicle access to Dunsmuir ended
  • bicycle and pedestrian bridge to connect from a planned park to Dunsmuir Street above.
  • bicycle and pedestrian mall on the west side of a future park linking Carrall Street with False Creek

(This summary has been adapted from the text of the Sun report as the city presentation is a pdf file)

The presentation also discusses how land use could change as this frees up the land currently covered by the viaducts for development. This “could generate 850,000 square feet of housing and retail space and could help pay for the cost of demolishing the viaducts”

I think the most encouraging thing in the presentation is the amount of public support for this proposal. There is even bipartisan support on Council.

Subsequently the Mayor has been trying to dampen everyone’s enthusiasm and suggest that it all needs to take much longer.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 25, 2012 at 8:40 am