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Vancouver reveals its desired design requirements for Broadway Subway

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Kenneth Chan May 14, 2018 4:25 pm 11,377

The City of Vancouver is making it quite clear that it wants the region’s transportation planners and decision makers to learn from the lessons of the capacity-constrained Canada Line when designing the Broadway Extension.

A report by City staff that outlines the “municipal requirements” of the $2.83-billion, 5.7-km-long underground extension of the Millennium Line from VCC Clark Station to Arbutus Street.

Similar agreements between the municipal government and TransLink or the provincial government were made for previous SkyTrain projects running through the city to help guide the design, construction, and implementation process.

Inlet Centre Station is a semi-underground Evergreen Extension station. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

Staff say the project should be designed for “long-term flexibility and resilience,” with the system designed to be consistent with the ultimate capacity of the existing Millennium Line, which is about 25,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) with 80-metre length platforms.

Comparatively, the Canada Line’s ultimate capacity is about 15,000 pphpd with additional trains and a small platform length extension from 40 metres to 50 metres.

As well, the extension should be designed to allow for a seamless extension beyond Arbutus Street to UBC with minimal impacts to Millennium Line service.

Redundancy and multiple station entrances

Elements of the stations such as platforms, elevators, escalators, and emergency exits should be “sized for the long-term needs on opening day or allow for future expansion” with minimal impacts to transit operations and passengers.

Up and down escalators at every vertical circulation point are requested for accessibility and capacity reasons, and multiple elevators at each station are preferred to allow for redundancy.

Up and down escalators are found at every vertical circulation point at all Evergreen Extension stations on the Millennium Line. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

Additionally, efforts should be made to minimize the number of elevator trips required to travel between the platform and the street. For instance at the Canada Line’s Oakridge-41st Avenue Station, it takes three time-consuming and highly inconvenient elevator trips to travel from the northbound platform to street level.

In fact, the municipal government wants stations to be designed to “allow for overbuild and integration into current and future developments whenever feasible,” such as underground connections in developments for secondary station entrances and emergency exits.

This includes a full integration of Broadway-City Hall Station with a future Vancouver City Hall campus on the West Broadway city block where the existing Canada Line station entrance is located. A direct underground connection between the Canada Line and Millennium Line platforms and multiple street entrances is also desired for this highly central, high traffic station.

Broadway City Hall Crossroads

Preliminary conceptual artistic rendering of the subway entrance at the Crossroads building at the northwest corner of Broadway and Cambie Street. (City of Vancouver)

“The Cambie Station [should] be given special consideration due to the significance of the site as a major transportation hub and centre of a civic and medical precinct, including considering opportunities for the City or another party to provide additional station entrances,” reads the report, adding that this will “reduce pedestrian movements at grade (at the intersection) and to allow flexibility to upgrade the existing entrance during construction of the future City Hall campus with minimal impacts to transit operations and passengers.”

The City also wants to work with Vancouver Coastal Health for a possible direct underground connection between the future station at Oak Street and the Vancouver General Hospital campus.

Public washrooms and unique architecture

Universally accessible washrooms for passengers upon opening day are a must for each of the six new underground stations along the extension. TransLink is already studying the feasibility of public washrooms.

Washrooms can be found at every station of the subway system in Osaka, Japan. (Shutterstock)

Overall, the report says station architecture should be unique so that “each station is easily identifiable” and “consideration [is given] for safety and crime prevention in surrounding neighbourhoods.” Public art can be one of the elements used to help make a station’s design unique.

The report notes that the municipal government is willing to cover the costs of reaching its outlined design and capacity standards if such standards are beyond TransLink’s project scope.

Minimizing construction impact to road travel on Broadway

As for avoiding the same disruptive process of the Canada Line’s cut-and-cover trench construction, the Broadway Extension will use a tunnel boring method to largely avoid the same level of disruption. Some disruptions will still happen as most of the stations will likely require cut and cover, which is the process of excavating the station pit from the street level down.

At least four road travel lanes – two lanes in each direction – on Broadway should be maintained whenever possible for the periods when vehicle traffic is heaviest. Two travel lanes, one in each direction, should be maintained at all times.

The 99 B-Line at the Broadway-City Hall Station bus stop. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

During construction, Broadway’s road space should be prioritized for existing buses, especially the 99 B-Line, through transit priority measures and minimal bus detours. This includes continuing peak hour bus lanes and considering bus lanes during the off-peak hours.

The City is contemplating a number of initiatives and bylaw relaxations to support businesses along the construction route.

Indigenous station names

Additionally, the City wants TransLink to consider indigenous station names to supplement the official English names of each station on the extension.

These are the extension’s six station locations (Note: These station names are for this article’s descriptive purposes only):

  • Great Northern Way-Thornton Street
  • Broadway-Main Street
  • Broadway-Cambie Street (direct underground connection to the Canada Line platforms)
  • Broadway-Oak Street
  • Broadway-Granville Street
  • Broadway-Arbutus Street

Construction on the $2.83-billion, 5.7-km-long extension of SkyTrain is anticipated to begin in 2020 for a 2025 completion. The estimated ridership upon opening is 140,000 per day.

Map of the underground SkyTrain extension of the Millennium Line from Broadway to Arbutus Street in Vancouver. (TransLink)

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Kenneth Chan
National Features Editor at Daily Hive, the evolution of Vancity Buzz. He covers local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and the travel industry. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]dailyhive.com

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