Traffic 411: Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts


Plans for future of Vancouver viaducts tentatively confirmed with $200-million price tag

By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter

Those having driven in Downtown Vancouver before have probably been over the viaducts more than once. On odd days, these elevated roadways are easy to cross within a minute, but on most days, they’re clogged bumper-to-bumper, especially during rush hour.

Back in 2013, the City of Vancouver unanimously voted to remove the viaducts, but the overwhelming reaction from the public, who were worried about increased traffic congestion, kept this decision in the slow lane for the following two years.

Finally, the Vancouver council has voted 5–4 in favour of tearing down the aged viaducts, thus transforming a former disconnected False Creek area into an integrated and welcoming hub for visitors across the world.

“Staff will start detailed planning and land negotiations and will report back to Council in early 2017 on a revised public benefits strategy as well as an update on negotiations. Following the completion of detailed planning and design work, and the necessary agreements to advance removal of the viaducts, construction of the new street network could start in late 2017, and be complete by 2020,” states the City of Vancouver’s website.

Back in the 1960s, its conceivable use as a freeway was left incomplete and over the years, these transportation arteries have become a liability. The viaducts are expensive to maintain, potentially unstable should an earthquake occur, and degrading the value of the False Creek area. What city council plans to do is revamp the entire property.

Simply put, the proposal is a ramp along Georgia Street and Pacific Boulevard. The industrialization of this new street network will supposedly support all vehicle traffic flow now and in the future. The integration of busy streets and a flourishing community will make it easier for transit drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians to commute in such a metropolitan area.

Creekside Park, alongside Science World, has plans to be extended by multiple hectares, thus making it the perfect area for families to meet and enjoy a stroll just blocks away from a proposed neighbourhood that would be built from scratch. All this and so much more is in the distant future, but not everyone is on board for this unforeseen detour.

Fern Jefferies, co-chair of the False Creek Residents Association, spoke with CBC to discuss what the plan is lacking. She questions if there will be enough social infrastructure to support a booming neighbourhood. Additionally, she asks the health impacts to the school and park adjacent to the proposed eight lanes of traffic. Lastly, she wonders where they will come up with $200-million to fund this huge project. Though Jefferies has voiced these concerns, she believes there’s nothing more that can be done to sway the city’s decision because it’s already “a done deal.”

Though not everyone might agree with the changes that will take place over the next five years to the outer downtown core, all Vancouverites will just have to wait and see what’s in store.

Mayor Gregor Robertson promises, as reported by the Globe and Mail, that it’s a “once-in-a-generation building opportunity.”