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Transportation, Architecture & Design, Urbanized, News

Public consultation launched for Granville Bridge's new bike and walking path

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Kenneth Chan Apr 17, 2019 4:53 pm 53

Following Vancouver City Council’s approval earlier this year of mandating an extensive consultation process, city staff are now seeking public feedback on a possible plan to turn between two to four centre lanes of the eight-lane Granville Street Bridge into a greenway with bike lanes, pedestrian paths, and public spaces.

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According to the municipal government, the 1954-built bridge has the most “excess capacity” of the three False Creek bridges, which potentially allows for the conversion of some of the lanes for non-vehicular uses. The city says even if each of the streets feeding the bridge were full, the traffic volumes on the bridge itself would be “relatively light.”

In comparison, with average volumes of 65,000 vehicles per day, it has slightly more traffic than the Burrard Street Bridge, however, it has twice as many lanes as a continuation of the Highway 99 arterial corridor through the city between the North Shore and Richmond.

Granville Bridge path

Vehicle traffic volumes on the False Creek bridges. (City of Vancouver)

Granville Bridge path

Vehicle traffic volumes on the Granville Bridge. (City of Vancouver)

This bridge is not heavily used by freight traffic due to weight limitations, but it sees over 25,000 transit trips per day with six bus routes running nearly 80 buses per hour during the busy peak periods.

However, the bridge deck’s existing design poses major challenges for pedestrians and cyclists.

The sidewalks on the outer edges of both sides of the bridge are narrow and do not have any physical barriers to protect pedestrians and cyclists from the fast-moving vehicles, and the crossings at the ends make it difficult to access the bridge for these users.

For these reasons, peak summer season pedestrian volumes on the Granville Street Bridge are roughly half of the Burrard Street Bridge and Cambie Street Bridge. Cycling volumes are even lower at just 5% of the volumes seen with the Burrard Street Bridge.

The path would be elevated one metre above the road deck and finished with lighting, public art, and seating, and a barrier would separate the path from the vehicles on either side. A centre path concept would begin at West 5th Avenue to establish a connection with the Arbutus Greenway to the south and end at Drake Street to the north in downtown.

Granville Bridge path

Pedestrian and cycling volumes on the False Creek bridges. (City of Vancouver)

If this project is supplemented by an elevator and staircase to Granville Island with a tall overhead sightseeing platform served by bus stops, the bridge could become a major tourist attraction.

There is $25 million budgeted in the 2019-2022 capital plan for this project, not including the elevator and staircase reaching Granville Island and the observation tower.

On the northern end of the bridge, work has started on preparing for the eventual demolition and mixed-use redevelopment of the loops 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.

Granville Bridge path

Possible location options for the elevator and staircase tower between Granville Island and the Granville Bridge deck. (City of Vancouver)

If the path is approved, construction will be concurrent with the already-planned work to provide the bridge structure with seismic and rehabilitation repairs.

The municipal government is currently seeking public feedback through an online survey that will end on May 10. Workshops requiring registration are also scheduled on the following dates and locations:

  • 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm on Saturday, April 27: CityLab — 511 West Broadway (Cambie Street and Broadway)
  • 10 am to 1 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm on Tuesday, April 30: Central Library — 350 West Georgia Street

The current consultation phase may lead to the creation of other concepts other than the centre-lane option, which was identified by city staff as the preferred option as it avoids the challenges of having to install signal-controlled crossings at the ends of the bridge.

High-level concepts will be created this summer, followed by detailed design concepts in the fall, with each planning step paired with more consultation. If approved by City Council at the end of 2019, construction could begin in 2021.

On the northern end of the bridge, work has started on preparing for the eventual demolition and mixed-use redevelopment of the loops 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.

Before

Granville Bridge

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

After (early preliminary concept)

Granville Bridge Greenway

Artistic rendering of a preliminary concept of the Granville Bridge Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

 

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