British Columbians could soon have a new plan to get across Burrard Inlet.
The province has released the results of a technical feasibility study for a high-capacity rapid transit crossing from Vancouver to the North Shore, identifying five potential crossing methods.
The options, which were investigated by Mott MacDonald Canada, include three tunnel plans and two bridge plans. They are as follows:
- Downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale via First Narrows (tunnel crossing)
- Downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale via Brockton Point (tunnel crossing)
- Downtown Vancouver to West Vancouver via Lonsdale (tunnel crossing)
- Downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale via Second Narrows (new bridge crossing)
- Burnaby to Lonsdale via Second Narrows (new bridge crossing)
A sixth option to use the existing Ironworkers Memorial Bridge was scrapped because of the structural challenges associated with retrofitting the bridge for seismic, ship collision, wind and fatigue vulnerabilities. In addition, the study noted the potential savings on cost and permitting timelines associated with this option are unlikely to be realized, given the “current climate on funding approval processes in the Lower Mainland.”
The study recommended refining the routing options, conducting more detailed transportation modelling and undergoing further engineering work.
At least one of the options around Waterfront Station downtown drew some concern. The tunnelling option would require a potentially costly rebuild of a portion of the Canada Line from Yaletown-Roundhouse Station to Waterfront Station to lower the existing track’s profile to enable a continuous extension of the Canada Line under Burrard Inlet to the North Shore.
However, the study noted that alternative options could be explored in these areas as the transit system develops, such as a new transit line extending south towards the planned Broadway Subway.
The study also recommended that increased participation from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the City of Burnaby, Metro Vancouver, BC Hydro, CN Rail and Transport Canada would be needed going forward.
The step was welcomed by many local officials who have long struggled with the issue of traffic congestion in the region.
“Transportation reliability for residents and businesses, including getting to and from work, is the most critical issue for our community,” said Mike Little, mayor of the District of North Vancouver, in a press release. “The potential routes located on the eastern side of North Vancouver not only create an opportunity to integrate with affordable homes and popular destinations, but also areas with future growth potential.”