On July 4th, 2004, the people of Redding, CA, celebrated the opening of a footbridge – a spectacular piece of engineering art that would become an internationally known icon for their small town.
Designed by Santiago Calatrava (who has gone on to become one of the world’s ‘starchitects’), the Sun Dial Bridge is 700 feet long and cost $23 million.
By comparison, the distance between the seawalls on the North and South Shores of False Creek at the Burrard Bridge is about 950 feet. And I’m guessing that for something under $62 million, the estimated cost of widening Burrard Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians, we might get something equally iconic.
It’s time the city seriously looked at that option.
We need a passerelle across False Creek – a low-level structure that so many cities are choosing for their narrow water crossings, as I discussed here. And I’m not the only one.
Real-estate consultant and City Program instructor Herb Auerbach feels the same:
During the open house seeking public opinion on the renovation of the Burrard Bridge to better accommodate pedestrians and bicycles I recommended that a better alternative was to consider a dedicated light weight pedestrian/bicycle bridge. This recommendation was pooh poohed by the consultants at the open house as technically not feasible and too expensive. In light of the new estimates for renovating the Bridge perhaps this should be reconsidered.
I was delighted to hear an interview with a Carol McArthur (?) the other morning on CBC re the idea for a pedestrian cycle bridge across Burrard Inlet in lieu of trying to modify the bridge for $62 million. I couldn’t agree more, that that is the best, most effective, efficient and people (tourist) friendly solution.
It would also enhance the link from English Bay promenade and the Aquatic Centre to the Maritime Museum, Vancouver Museum and Festival sites (Children’s, Bard on the Beach), Kits Pool, Conservatory and Archives without negatively effecting, in fact reducing the impacts on the Kits Point neighborhoods. It also precludes “tampering” with the Burrard Bridge which has heritage characteristics.
In a world of changing climate, rising energy costs, increasing obesity and limited budgets, how odd that decision makers aren’t spending ‘the first dollar’ on solutions that we know will address all of these challenges simultaneously.
UPDATE: Several commentators have noted the inability to build a low-level bridge because of False Creek boat traffic. Correction: sailboat traffic. Barges and motor-boats would still be able to slip underneath most passerelles. The problem is with the masts of sailboats and the occasional very large boat.
Okay – that’s the trade-off. Unless a draw-bridge was included – too expensive to man, says the city – then sailboat traffic would have to be phased out of False Creek or limited to those with masts that could be lowered.
So that’s the choice: provide ustainable transportation for literally thousands of people a day, save the heritage features of the Burrard Bridge, provide better connections for Kitsilano and the West End, create an iconic structure, and do it all for less cost. Or serve sailboats as the highest priority.
It’s time there was at least a discussion about that trade-off.
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