Gaetan Royer, having moved from City Manager in Port Moody to Metro, floats an audacious idea:

Imagine an aerial park perched above the Fraser River featuring two kilometres of trees and green space with meandering pedestrian paths and a public plaza in the middle.

It’s an alternate vision for the Port Mann Bridge, which is now slated to be demolished once the new 10-lane toll bridge rising beside it opens just over a year from now.

The idea of saving the old bridge as a unique park was quietly floated by a Metro Vancouver manager at a regional parks committee meeting Wednesday.

SFU City Program director Gordon Price rates it a long shot – but a fascinating one.

“Wow – that would be spectacular,” he said. “I love the idea. It’s just so audacious and jaw-dropping to think of what the possibilities might be.” ….   People love this stuff,” he said. “If it’s going to cost a lot to tear it down there might be an argument to leave it for now. Maybe it could be done over time.

“People might look back in 50 or 60 years and say this was a stroke of genius.”

Old bridges and railway viaducts have been turned into elevated parks elsewhere in the world.

Paris has the Promenade Planteé, the world’s first elevated parkway converted from an unused raised railway in the 1990s.

New York has the High Line Park, a similar rail viaduct in Manhattan that was saved from demolition and transformed into a popular linear park and public space.

“It’s been spectacularly successful, generating billions of dollars of associated development,” Price said. “It’s one of the best things that’s happened in New York.”

 More here.

And click here for a Price Tags on the Promenade Plantee and Parisian parks.

Comments

  1. This would be a lovely idea in the right setting – but I don’t think the area around the Port Mann bridge area is it. It’s basically an industrial park with no nearby housing or amenities that’s almost impossible for pedestrians to access – I can’t imagine it being popular enough to be worth the effort.

    Perhaps when the Pattullo bridge is replaced……?

  2. I agree, it’s a fantastic idea. However I believe the new structure cannot be completed until the old one is taken down. This is why it is being opened with limited lanes initially.

  3. That would be spectacular. While Sean is right that it’s not near a whole lot, there are houses in the area and it could be well connected to trails. I also imagine it would be a regional draw, as the view would be spectacular. The big question is what would the expenses be and does it make sense, but I love the idea.

  4. There is a lot of development planned nearby at Fraser Mills. The Boulevard Casino is planning to build a hotel. There is also Colony Farm that has a really great trail network.

    The cost of demolishing the Old Mann could be from $50 million to $100 million. Add that to the tens of millions for the bike/ped path on the new bridge and this might just be less expensive. The path they are planning on the new bridge is actually substandard width. Having the bikes and peds on the old bridge would solve that problem.

  5. most awesome and people friendly idea! There is a fine balance in development and nature. We kill land for human footprint. Surely, we can turn our footprint back to land, and reclaim something for future generations. Or, we could spend millions trying to reconstruct our history, and rebuild something else concrete. Since cities, and provinces have such a vast reserve of cash, and all basics for their citizens are more than met-like education, healthcare…so spending less money, and giving back to nature and allowing breathing space for people, and wildlife…huh.. hope it flies…

  6. Exactly. Even if it were feasible (which it isn’t given the right-of-way necessary for the new brdige approaches) – where would the money come from to justify the cost of maintenance (and suicide barrier)?
    Maintaining a regular park (there’s a riverfront park under the north end of the Port Mann Bridge for those that didn’t know) would be much cheaper – leave the thrill of being up high to the Capilano Suspension Bridge (or the free version at Lynn Canyon) or just walk across the new bridge.

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