Construction will begin Monday, January 6, on a complete overhaul of Richards Street across the downtown Vancouver peninsula to include new bike lanes and greenery.
The municipal government is pushing forward with its plans to redesign 11 city blocks of Richards Street between West Cordova Street in Gastown and Pacific Street in North False Creek.
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New separated bi-directional bike lanes will be built on the east side of the street, including the relocation of the existing painted southbound bike lane currently on the west side of the street between Robson Street and Drake Street. A configuration on the east side was chosen to reduce conflicts.
The southern half of Richards Street saw the installation of its first painted bike lanes in 2013.
As well, stormwater tree trenches will be created to reduce rainwater runoff and enhance the “urban forest” in downtown, including a new median with trees between the bike lanes and the roadway. Altogether, 100 new trees will be planted.
Other upgrades include protected intersections, the reconstruction of traffic signals, sidewalk improvements, street repaving, one block of sewer upgrades, and the relocation of four existing Mobi bike share stations and the installation of two additional stations.
To make way for the required bike lane and median space, and to retain curbside parking on both sides of the street, Richards Street will see its regular traffic lanes reduced from two through lanes to one through lane.
According to municipal government, a single through lane is sufficient for existing motor vehicle volumes on the street, which includes transit buses over the northern sections of the route.
During public consultation, city staff stated Richards Street, which is a one-way southbound roadway, can operate with just one through lane as “volumes are generally low and the parking restrictions during the afternoon peak between Dunsmuir and Nelson streets allow for increased motor vehicles at that time.”
The established redesign of the street will retain about 85% of the curbside parking spots.
Construction work will be completed over two phases to minimize traffic impacts. The first phase between Cordova Street and Nelson Street will be built from now to Summer 2020, while the second phase between Nelson Street and Pacific Street will be built from Summer 2020 to Spring 2021.
The new bike lane corridor passes by the new $14.5-million public park planned for the 0.8-acre, ground-level parking lot at the northeast corner of Richards Street and Smithe Street. Park construction will begin this month as well.
Further south on Richards Street, there are also future plans to construct a new seven-block-long bike lane along Drake Street between Burrard Street and Pacific Boulevard.