British Columbia

Richards Street makeover to disrupt Vancouver traffic for 15 months

A major Richards Street makeover in Vancouver will mean construction and traffic disruptions spanning 15 months, before the $11 million project is complete.

Changes will include bike lane redesign, EV charging stations, more bike share hubs, and more trees.

An artist's rendering of a section of Richards Street at Dunsmuir Street shows the bicycle lane widened and moved to the left side of the street, where it will be protected from traffic by a permanent physical barrier and newly planted trees. (City of Vancouver)

A major redesign of Vancouver's Richards Street officially begins on Monday, with traffic disruption for motorists and cyclists expected to last 15 months before the $13.4 million project is complete.

The makeover will extend nearly the entire length of the downtown street, from Cordova to Pacific, bringing improvements to the bike lane, which now lies between a row of parked cars and the sidewalk on the right side of the one-way southbound street. 

According to Paul Storer, the City of Vancouver's manager of transportation design, the plan to extend the current bike lane stalled, as the city received feedback about the design.

"There isn't a huge buffer between the parked cars and the bike lane, and the bike lane isn't very wide if one cyclist wants to pass another cyclist," said Storer.

The city's solution is to move the entire bike path to the left (east) side of the street, separate it from vehicle traffic with permanent physical barriers, and widen it to allow bicycle traffic in both directions. 

Trees have already been removed on Richards Street to make way for construction. Storer said the some trees are in the way at intersections, but most of the ones that have to be cut need to be removed because their roots have grown too much, causing damage to the sidewalks.

As part of the project, more than 100 new trees will be planted and water trenches and silva-soil cells — which help suspend a sidewalk above the soil, allowing water to be absorbed underneath — will be installed to manage storm water and keep the new roots from damaging sidewalks.

The project will also add an electric vehicle charging station, two new bike share hubs, and more bike racks, according to the city.

Paul Storer, manager of transportation design with the City of Vancouver, says Richards Street redesign is expected to cost $13.4 million and take 15 months to complete. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Storer said construction will begin at key intersections, then move from the north end of Richards toward the south end. He said vehicle traffic will often be reduced to one lane and cyclists will have to detour during the work, which is expected to wrap up in spring 2021.

Corrections

  • In an earlier version of this story, the City of Vancouver provided an incorrect cost estimate for the Richards Street redesign project. In fact, the project is estimated to cost $13.4 million.
    Jan 03, 2020 12:31 PM PT

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