Drivers and transit users who use the Burrard Street Bridge might want to consider using the Granville Street Bridge or the Cambie Street Bridge over the coming 18 months.
Construction begins in March on the municipal government’s $35-million project to retrofit Burrard Street Bridge deck with widened bike lanes and pedestrian pathways, widening of the north end of the bridge deck, suicide-prevention fencing, rehabilitation of the heritage concrete railings, and a redesign of the intersection at Pacific Street and Burrard Street.
The controversial project was approved by Vancouver City Council last summer amidst significant criticism over the need for the changes and the cost of the project.
One northbound lane on the bridge will be lost, turning the bridge into a four-lane crossing, to provide cyclists with their own dedicated bike lane space and allow pedestrians to use the east sidewalk again. The concrete median currently placed on the sidewalk will be relocated onto the roadway.
Since 2009, when the bike lane trials began, pedestrians have only been allowed to use the west sidewalk of the bridge.
The separated turning channels at the intersection at the north end of the bridge will be removed and replaced with new turning lanes controlled by traffic lights. The bridge deck will be widened before the intersection to allow for four northbound lanes – two turning lanes onto Pacific Street and two lanes to travel straight onto Burrard Street.
The southbound direction will retain a two-lane capacity serving two right-turn lanes from Pacific Street and two southbound lanes from Burrard Street.
Currently, the turning channels cross into pedestrian and cycling paths and is used by drivers at their own discretion. This new intersection configuration will be similar to the recently completed redesign of the intersection at the south end of the bridge at Cornwall Avenue and Burrard Street.
Additionally, suicide-prevention fencing similar to those found on the Second Narrows Bridge will be installed along the length of the bridge. The fencing has been a cause for concern for heritage activists as it would not only eliminate the unobstructed views of the city and harbour from the bridge deck but also the iconic look of the 1932-built landmark structure.
The City maintains that the fencing is necessary, asserting that seven people have died by jumping off the bridge from 2006 to 2015, and that it has discussed with heritage activists to ensure their concerns are addressed. In contrast, there have been 33 jumpers on the Lions Gate Bridge during the same period.
Work on the bridge’s latest construction project is expected to be completed in mid-2017.