Vancouver's $200M viaduct replacement plans include new park

Details of a $200 million proposal to replace Vancouver's Georgia and Dunsmuir street viaducts were revealed by senior planners from city hall today, including a new 13-acre park on the shore of False Creek.

In 2013, council voted to study the removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts

The proposal involves removing the elevated viaducts and replacing them with surface routes to an from ramps connecting with downtown Vancouver near Rogers Arena. (City of Vancouver)

Details of a $200 million proposal to replace Vancouver's Georgia and Dunsmuir street viaducts, including a new 13-acre park on the shore of False Creekwere revealed by senior planners from city hall today.

The proposal suggests replacing the elevated roadways with surface roads that connect to ramps near Rogers Arena in and out of downtown Vancouver.

Staff say the total cost for the project would be about $200 million, but the full cost would be covered by revenue generated by a variety of sources, including development of land opened up by the project.

Current design of the viaducts land cross-section. (City of Vancouver)

According to city staff replacing the viaducts would have several benefits including:

  • More resilient infrastructure for flood and earthquake safety.
  • Lower on-going maintenance costs.
  • A new 2,500 unit neighbourhood on False Creek.
  • A 13-acre Creekside Park.
  • Rerouting arterial traffic off Prior Street.
  • An elevated cycling and pedestrian route from Dunsmuir Street.

October council decision

The proposal will go to city council for approval on Oct 21. If approved by city council, further details would be worked out by city staff. The whole plan is expected to take about five years to complete.

"Staff are chomping at the bit waiting to go," said Jerry Dobrovolny, the acting general manger of city engineering. "This is a once-in-a-life-time city building opportunity.

City Councillor George Affleck said he still had concerns about whether the projected revenue would be able to cover the cost of the project, and much it would impact commuters.

"We are looking at one to three minutes per trip. For a commuter that is six minutes a day, five times a week. That is 30 minutes a week. This is time out of people's lives," said Affleck.

The plan and estimated cost doesn't include $100 million for a new overpass along Malkin Avenue to move rerouted traffic over the rail yards on False Creek Flats to the east of the site. That cost, like the new Powell Street railway overpass, may be shared by the federal government and the rail company.

Planning stages

In June 2013, the city council voted unanimously to study the removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, which link East Vancouver with downtown, but a final vote on the proposal has not taken place yet.

Since then, city staff have been conducting traffic impact studies and community consultations to determine what impact the viaduct removals would have on the city.

In addition to technical research, city staff conducted 13 open houses and 38 stakeholder meetings, according to Dobrovolny.

The Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts link downtown Vancouver with Prior Street in East Vancouver. They were originally built to connect to a freeway through East Vancouver that was scrapped after residents protested.

An exhibit of the technical findings will be on display at Science World for the next two weeks, and staff will report those findings to council later this fall.

The viaducts were originally opened in 1972 as part of a larger proposed freeway through East Vancouver. That plan was scrapped after residents protested.

Google Maps: Georgia viaduct

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