British Columbia

Community panel picks route for new road through Vancouver's False Creek Flats

The new road will allow the city to build an overpass to divert traffic from a railroad crossing on Venables Street, the only remaining major road in Vancouver to cross a rail line at street level.

City hall will have the final say on whether it will build an overpass

The City of Vancouver wants to build a new arterial road to divert traffic from this at-grade rail crossing on Venables Street near the point where it turns into Prior Street in Strathcona. It's aiming to improve road safety and also better connect the False Creek Flats to the rest of the city. (Google Maps)

After four months of meetings, a Vancouver community panel has submitted its choice to city hall of a new road to improve rail safety and calm traffic in a downtown neighbourhood.

The City of Vancouver is planning to revitalize False Creek Flats in the city's Strathcona neighbourhood, which is bordered by Chinatown, Clark Drive and two rail yard yards.

Part of its plan is to divert traffic away from a railway crossing on Venables Street where it turns into Prior Street. The crossing, part of the Burrard Inlet Rail Line, is one of the few street-level rail crossings remaining on a major road in Vancouver.

On Saturday, a panel made up of residents and local businesses chose a route called the National-Charles option, one of nine presented by the city. It entails building an 86-metre bridge along Charles Street from Clark Drive.

The road from the overpass would then run along National Avenue, Thornton Street and then up Malkin Avenue to Main Street.

The overpass and new road is meant to improve safety and create better connections for people driving, taking transit, cycling and walking between East Vancouver and the city core.

The National-Charles option has a low impact on local businesses, moves traffic away from residential areas and preserves local gardens and green space.

The main drawback is cost as the plan calls for a bridge to be built over 14 rail lines, which has significant land acquisition and construction costs.

A diagram outlining the National-Charles False Creek Flats arterial road option. The thick blue line represents an overpass. (City of Vancouver)

The Strathcona Residents Association in its study and discussion of the options estimates a National-Charles route to cost between $105 and $173 million while documents from the city said a version of the plan could cost as much as $485 million.

Still the City of Vancouver congratulated the panel for recommending an option which received nearly 68 per cent of votes. A Prior/Venables underpass was the runner-up with 32 per cent of the vote.

'Emotional question'

"We would like to thank the participants for their commitment to their community and city through a significant contribution of time and effort on this challenging technical and, at times, emotional question," said a City of Vancouver news release.

The panel will now present its recommendation to council and Park Board commissioners on April 24.

Staff will submit a final recommendation to council in the fall of 2019.

Council and the Park Board will have the final say on which option will be built and can accept, modify or reject the panel's recommendation.


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