Final 6 design options for Granville Bridge pedestrian and bike path released (RENDERINGS)

Sep 6 2019, 12:50 pm

Six varying design concepts were revealed by the City of Vancouver today for the redesign of the eight-lane Granville Street Bridge deck to accommodate new walking and cycling pathway, as well as public spaces.

This comes six months after Vancouver city council approved an extensive public consultation process, initiating a technical review to identify alternative design and configuration options for the pathway connector.

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The identified options, shortlisted from a list of more than 20 options, include placing the pathways on one side of the bridge, both sides, and the raised centre lane option. Some of the options may also require a slight widening of the bridge deck.

Granville Bridge

The existing Granville Street Bridge road deck. (Google Maps)

The proposed pathway — stretching from Drake Street to the north to West 5th Avenue to the south — will be about eight metres wide, accomplished through the reallocation of two vehicle lanes, potentially the reallocation of the existing two-metre sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, and the narrowing of vehicle lanes.

Each option will provide at least a three-metre width for walking, and a three-metre width for a bi-directional bike path or 2.5-metre width unidirectional bike path. The remaining space could be utilized for furniture or other installations to create a buffer space between pedestrians, bikes, and vehicles.

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector six options compared. (City of Vancouver)

Granville Street’s intersections at Drake Street in the north end and West 5th Avenue in the south end will be redesigned to provide the connection to get on and off the bridge. It will also connect to the new Drake Street bike lane and the Arbutus Greenway.

For all options that place the pathway on the side, new traffic-signal controlled crossings are required near the ends of the bridge.

According to city staff’s preliminary review, a minimum of three vehicle lanes must be maintained in each direction to maintain optimal traffic flow across the bridge, which is part of TransLink’s regional Major Road Network, used heavily by buses, and considered an extension of the Highway 99 route.

The bridge sees an average of 65,000 motor vehicle crossings and 25,000 bus transit trips per day, with six bus routes running a combined total of nearly 80 buses per hour during peak periods.

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge vehicle traffic volumes. (City of Vancouver)

The previously contemplated raised centre pathway idea that maintained just four vehicle lanes was deemed to be particularly problematic, as it would result in “very significant traffic delays in the northbound direction on Granville Street” and “significant impacts to transit and emergency services.”

Moreover, the narrower raised centre pathway option still being considered, retaining six vehicle lanes, has been evaluated to be the worst of the six options. Compared to the alternatives, this option underperforms for functionality and the feasibility as an exercise for placemaking, such as the ability for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy views.

As well, the raised centre pathway option could cost between $45 million and $55 million — as much as nearly three times the cost of other options. It goes well over the budget outlined in the municipal government’s 2019-2022 capital plan, which only allocates $25 million towards walking and cycling improvements for the bridge.

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector six options compared. (City of Vancouver)

But consultation materials also indicate there could be added elements that increase costs further, including the possibility of suicide-prevention fencing — similar to the Burrard Street Bridge — or netting. City staff say they are working with Vancouver Coastal Health and other mental health experts on this suicide-prevention component, which could be phased in later at a cost of between $8 million and $15 million.

A potential vertical connection — elevator and staircase — to Granville Island below and observation tower is not part of this project, but it is still identified as a future possibility.

Other pathway design concepts that have been eliminated from consideration entail side pathways that follow the bridge on- and off-ramps on both ends of the bridge. City staff have found that this is undesirable as it does not provide direct connections to Granville Street in downtown or the South Granville business area and would result in “very significant traffic delays in both directions.”

The idea of a new cantilevered pathway structure under the bridge deck has also been dismissed for a variety of factors, including its estimated cost of over $150 million.

Here is a full breakdown of the six different designs and configurations:

Option 1: West Side

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 1 – West Side. (City of Vancouver)

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 1 – West Side. (City of Vancouver)

Option 2: West Side Plus

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 2 – West Side Plus. (City of Vancouver)

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 2 – West Side Plus. (City of Vancouver)

Option 3: East Side

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 3 – East Side. (City of Vancouver)

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 3 – East Side. (City of Vancouver)

Option 4: East Side Plus

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 4 – East Side Plus. (City of Vancouver)

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 4 – East Side Plus. (City of Vancouver)

Option 5: Raised Centre

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 5 – Raised Centre. (City of Vancouver)

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 5 – Raised Centre. (City of Vancouver)

Option 6: Both Sides

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 6 – Both Sides. (City of Vancouver)

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 6 – Both Sides. (City of Vancouver)

Based on the city’s initial public consultation earlier this year, more than half of 5,000 survey respondents felt uncomfortable walking across the existing narrow sidewalks of the bridge, and this increased to 78% for those cycling on their own.

Moreover, 41% said they avoid walking across the bridge, and 59% avoid using the route for biking.

The pathway project is separate from two other projects specifically for the bridge, including a $34-million seismic and rehabilitation upgrade of the 1954-built structure. Construction began in Fall 2018 and is expected to continue until Summer 2021.

There is also an $18-million plan to demolish the on- and off-ramp loops on the north end of the bridge to make way for a new street grid that allows for redevelopment opportunities.

Preliminary concept of what a redevelopment of the Granville Loops could look like. (Cressey Development Group)

Public consultation on the six design concepts for the pathway will be held throughout the month, with open houses scheduled on the following dates:

  • CityLab — 511 West Broadway
    • September 13, 2019 — 12 pm to 7 pm
    • September 14, 2019 — 12 pm to 5 pm
  • Central Library Promenade, 350 West Georgia
    • September 17, 2019 — 4 pm to 8 pm

An online survey on the city’s website will be live between September 13 and 30.

City council will review the public’s feedback on the six options, and make a decision sometime in early 2020. If the project receives final approval, a detailed design will be created to allow for construction to potentially begin in 2021.

New council

Artistic rendering of a potential concept for an elevator, staircase, and observation deck between Granville Island and the Granville Street Bridge deck. (CMHC)

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