Uncertainty over new pedestrian bridge from SkyTrain Metrotown Station to mall

Oct 26 2019, 3:34 am

At the very least, a new replacement pedestrian bridge spanning over Central Boulevard to directly connect SkyTrain’s Metrotown Station with Metropolis at Metrotown mall and Station Square is a few more years away.

However, there is some uncertainty over the timeline and design of the long-envisioned bridge, as another component of improving the SkyTrain station’s accessibility and capacity.

Although the City of Burnaby has budgeted $17.25 million for the overpass in its 2019-2023 Capital Plan, there are major questions over the exact design and location.

Ed Kozak, the director of planning and building for the city, told Daily Hive “it’s a difficult question to answer because there are a lot of moving parts.”

Landlord and mall operator Ivanhoe Cambridge recently formally engaged the municipality in its plan to redevelop Metropolis at Metrotown shopping centre. The resulting future master plan will outline the form of the mall’s phased redevelopment, and the timeline of the construction phasing will be a major determinant of the overpass.

SkyTrain Metrotown Station pedestrian overpass

Artistic rendering of the renovations to SkyTrain’s Metrotown Station with a pedestrian overpass connection. (TransLink)

He explains the possible scenario of a redevelopment phasing constructed on the other side of the street from the station — it could mean an overpass that goes directly into a building, instead of the previous assumption of a land bridge over a portion of the mall access road and/or the existing bus loop.

Another emerging matter, he says, is TransLink’s desire to re-engage the municipal government on how the buses use the busy station.

Early in the planning for the station rebuild, planners envisioned an on-street bus exchange surrounding the SkyTrain station to create a more convenient and seamless transfer between bus and train services. This configuration would replace the existing bus loop on the mall side of the street.

SkyTrain Metrotown Station pedestrian overpass

Location of the where a pedestrian overpass would connect to SkyTrain’s Metrotown Station. (Google Maps)

“By abandoning or not needing that bus loop and going to a configuration around the station, it changes how that connection is made,” said Kozak, adding that changing factors could possibly lead to the determination of the need for an improved ground-level crossing instead of a bridge.

“We need those moving parts to stop moving so much before city council can make a decision on that,” he continued.

But he says there is some certainty over the future of the old pedestrian overpass that remains standing and is disconnected from the station. City staff intend on seeking council funding to remove the structure as soon as possible.

The old pedestrian overpass connected with the original station concourse level, which was demolished to allow for a rebuild of the original entrance.

SkyTrain Metrotown Station pedestrian overpass

The renovated SkyTrain Metrotown Station and the old, disconnected overpass. (Google Maps)

Based on previously released design concepts, a new replacement overpass could be positioned with the centre of the station structure – just west of the old overpass location, closer to Station Square.

It would connect with the mezzanine level of the new centre stationhouse, which is an entrance outfitted with three elevators and a staircase – no escalators.

And because the walkway ends inside the mezzanine level, which is a fare paid zone, it is conceivable that the project may require outfitting an area – possibly the shopping mall end of the walkway – with fare gates and ticket vending machines.

Artistic rendering of the renovations to SkyTrain’s Metrotown Station with a pedestrian overpass connection. (TransLink)

Ever since the permanent closure and disconnection of the old overpass in late-2016, all passengers have been required to descend to street level and use the crosswalk across Central Boulevard to reach the shopping mall and the bus loop.

Metrotown Station is the second busiest SkyTrain station on the entire network, with over 50,000 daily train boardings. Its bus loop also sees about 25,000 bus passengers per day.

There is a high constant flow of pedestrian traffic between the train station and both the bus loop and shopping centres across the street.