Mayor considers pedestrian-cyclist crossing parallel to Burrard Bridge
By David Karp, Vancouver Sun
July 2, 2009 8:01 PM
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said Thursday he is mulling over plans to build a $45-million pedestrian-and-cyclist bridge across the entrance to False Creek.
The suspension bridge would connect Vanier Park with Sunset Beach and run parallel to the Burrard Bridge.
Robertson said in an interview he spoke several months ago with architect Gregory Henriquez, who designed the new Woodward’s development on Cordova Street, about a possible car-less bridge next to the Burrard Bridge.
“I said, ‘Let me look into it. I’ll take a run at it just for fun,’” Henriquez said Thursday.
Along with engineer C.C. Yao, Henriquez came up with plans for a 15-metre wide suspension bridge.
Henriquez’s design would have a zig-zag bridge deck supported by suspension cables coming from the side, rather than directly above the bridge deck. The bridge would be tall enough for boats to sail underneath, and would be slightly steeper than the Burrard Bridge.
“The [curved] design allows for a longer bridge and ramp access, and a more graceful one,” Henriquez said. “It’s meant to be a poetic interpretation of a traditional suspension bridge. It’s modern and simple like the sail of a boat, and is meant to contrast the existing heritage Burrard Bridge, which is neoclassical.”
Henriquez noted the bridge would provide an excellent viewpoint for the annual Celebration of Light fireworks festival in English Bay.
“It would be the best spot to watch the fireworks. You’d be looking out with no cables, so it would feel like you’re suspended in air,” he said.
If funding could be secured, Henriquez said the bridge could be designed, tested and built in under two years. Robertson said it’s possible such a bridge could open within five years.
“If there is a ton of support, and the capital plan passed with a bridge included, it’s possible,” he said. “People have talked about it for years, but no one has had a real proposal on the table. This should accelerate the dialogue.”
The city would not be committed to Henriquez’s design, and would likely open the process to competition from other designers and builders.
The proposal comes as the city is set to open a bike-only lane on the Burrard Bridge as a trial starting July 13. According to City of Vancouver documents, the Burrard Bridge is in need of $30 million in general maintenance. Widening the bridge to allow for an expanded sidewalk would cost an additional $35 million.
This option provides an alternative for the long term, Robertson said.
“This would be a big signature piece for Vancouver, and create tourism revenue and economic opportunity,” he said. “Timing wise, it’s not a near-term reality. But if we can get lots of people interested, then it will happen.”
Robertson said funding for the bridge could come from multiple levels of government, and said it’s possible funding for a bridge could be put to a referendum.
According to 2006 census data, only 15.9 per cent of City of Vancouver residents and eight per cent of Metro Vancouver residents bike or walk to work. That’s up from 14 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively in 1996. Still, Robertson suggested there are reasons for the majority of commuters to support the project.
“This bridge would alleviate the concerns about lanes on other bridges being dedicated for safe cycling and walking,” he said. “The numbers of walkers and cyclists are rising rapidly. We’re seeing a big shift in how people commute.
“It’s intriguing, and it will definitely spark some good discussion about what we should do for the future.”
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Source: News 1130