Vancouver City Council is expected to approve a plan next week that allows staff with the municipal government to begin public consultation and further detailed planning on a redesign of the eight-lane Granville Street Bridge that turns between two and four centre lanes into an elevated path for bikes and pedestrians.
A physical barrier would separate vehicles from the users of the new centre path to ensure a comfortable and safe unique experience.
“Preliminary analysis shows that the [bridge’s] existing traffic could be accommodated by two lanes in either direction, however further analysis is underway,” reads a city staff report.
The idea has been floating around City Hall for a decade, and it was included in the 2012-approved Transportation 2040 plan. But the projected $25-million cost was only included recently in an upcoming budget, the 2019-2022 Capital Plan.
“The goal of this project would be to create a safe, comfortable, accessible and enjoyable walking, rolling and cycling experience across the bridge, which would seamlessly connect major destinations and link to the city’s broader network,” the report continues.
“The project would take advantage of excess road space on the bridge by reallocating traffic lanes to create a unique experience and sense of place, including spectacular city views and opportunities for amenities such as art and public seating.”
City manager Sadhu Johnston has described this as a “critical project” for city council’s consideration.
Separately, the municipal government says a study is also being conducted to determine the feasibility of an elevator and staircase that connects the centre path on the bridge deck level to Granville Island below.
This elevator and staircase were first proposed by Canada Mortage Housing Corporation’s long-term master plan for revitalizing Granville Island, and it also contemplated a soaring tower over the bridge to enable an observation deck attraction.
Construction has begun on rehabilitation and seismic upgrades to the 1954-built bridge, and work has also started on preparing for the eventual demolition and mixed-use redevelopment of the loops on the north end of the bridge that connect the bridge lanes with Pacific Street. The cost of the loops demolition and new replacement street grid is expected to cost $18 million.
Eventually, the walking and cycling path on the bridge deck could connect with the Arbutus Greenway.