Plans to repair and upgrade the north end of Vancouver's aging Burrard Bridge could include turning one of the northbound vehicles lanes into a bike lane and restoring pedestrian access to the eastern sidewalk on the heritage structure.

The city unveiled its plans for the bridge and a public consultation process on Monday morning.

Lon LaClaire

The city of Vancouver's acting transportation director Lon LaClaire described the changes to reporters. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

"This intersection has been on our radar for a very long time, mainly because it's a high-collision location," said Lon LaClaire, acting transportation director for the city.

"The congestion is experienced here, at the intersection of Burrard and Pacific."

The north end of Burrard Bridge at Pacific St. has the second highest rate of collisions between vehicles of any intersections in the city, and is a bottleneck for northbound traffic into downtown, he said.

Bridge to widen at north end

Under the city's plan, illustrated in an artist's rendering, northbound vehicle traffic would be reduced from three lanes to two for most of the span.

The lane lost by drivers would be given to cyclists, and pedestrians would get the east sidewalk back. Currently, people on foot have to walk on the west side of the bridge.

Burrard north end 2015

Currently, northbound cyclists are on the sidewalk and one vehicle lane can turn right from Burrard Bridge onto Pacific. (Google Streetview)

At the north end, the bridge would be widened to accommodate four vehicle lanes heading into downtown — two turning right, and two going straight up Burrard St.

The right-turn lanes onto Pacific would be controlled by a signal, rather than the current free-turn right that crosses cycling and pedestrian paths.

Second lane lost to vehicle traffic


The southbound bike lane on the Burrard Bridge is separated by concrete barriers from vehicle traffic. (CBC)

In 2009, the city turned one of the southbound vehicle lanes into a bike lane and turned the sidewalk on the northbound side of the bridge into bike-only lane. All pedestrians were restricted to the sidewalk on the southbound side of the bridge. 

The city recently reconfigured the bike lanes and sidewalks at the south end of the bridge in order to make the intersection with Cornwall Street safer.

The Burrard Bridge bike lane is the busiest in the city, with 195,000 trips recorded last July.

The current city plan is to start construction in early 2016, and make the lane and intersection changes at the same time as structural repairs and maintenance on the bridge.