Potential upgrades for Portside Greenway bike route, including along Powell Street

Apr 24 2023, 10:03 pm

The east-west cycling and walking route along the northern perimeter of East Vancouver between North Burnaby and downtown Vancouver is being eyed for major improvements.

The City of Vancouver is currently seeking public input on upgrades to the Portside Greenway, which currently runs along Alexander Street and Powell Street in Gastown and the Downtown Eastside, and then Pandora Street, Lakewood Drive, Wall Street, and Bridgeview Street in the Grandview-Woodland and Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhoods.

While improvements are eyed for the entire seven-km-long route, most of the focus of this project is east of the 2014-built Powell Street Overpass, which added a dedicated bike lane and wide pedestrian sidewalks between Hawks Avenue and McLean Drive.

Currently, the Portside Greenway east of the overpass detours south — away from Powell Street — along Pandora Street via McLean Drive and Lakewood Drive.

City staff expressed a strong desire to reroute the Portside Greenway onto Powell Street east of Semlin Drive, providing it with a direct route onto Wall Street east of Lakewood Drive. The existing detour is 1.6 km long and has three arterial road intersection crossings, while the direct route remaining on Powell Street has a shorter distance of 0.9 km and zero major intersections.

But City staff note Powell Street is a high vehicle traffic and truck route serving the area’s port and industrial businesses, with two vehicle travel lanes in each direction during the peak periods. TransLink buses also already express delays during peak periods.

The Portside Greenway’s five-block-long “gap” between McLean Drive and Semlin Drive is classified as an arterial road by the City of Vancouver and part of TransLink’s Major Road Network for regional, bus, and commercial traffic. Changes to any roadway in the region that is part of the Major Road Network require TransLink’s approval. Over 30,000 vehicles use Powell Street on a daily basis.

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Portside Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

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Portside Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

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Portside Greenway gap and existing detour east of the Powell Street Overpass. (City of Vancouver)

For interim upgrades, Portside Greenway’s segment of Alexandra Street could see improvements to traffic calming and repaired crosswalks and sidewalks, and the reconstruction of Heatley Avenue, which saw its port overpass removed in 2022.

For the major segment of the greenway along Wall Street between Lakewood Drive and New Brighton Park, there could be further traffic calming measures to address the route being used for shortcutting. This could include traffic diverters, street closures, and one-way street configurations.

The planning project for the Portside Greenway is currently in the very early stages. An online survey is open from now through May 25, 2023.

Feedback from the current public consultation will be used to help draft initial concepts by Fall 2023 for further public consultation, followed by refined concepts and detailed design in 2024. Construction on some of the improvements could begin in 2025.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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