Lots of buzz about the ped/bike bridge proposal floated by the Mayor as an alternative to the lane closure or widening of the Burrard Bridge. (See Frances Bula’s post on the subject here.)
Architect Gregory Henriquez and engineer C.C. Yao came up with this:
I’m not a fan. Too big, too complicated, too expensive – mainly to accommodate the ramps needed to get the bridge deck high enough so that boats can sail underneath without impediment. And that’s the issue that never seems to get addressed head on: must any new crossing of False Creek be a high-level bridge?
In the past, most bridges over False Creek were low level. Like the first and second Granville Bridge:
And the second Cambie bridge:
And the railroad trestle just east of Burrard:
If there wasn’t an assumed priority to avoid drawbridges or swing spans, then a passerelle (as the French call pedestrian bridges) becomes a possible option. (I illustrate many of the new and exciting passerelles being built around the world in this summary post here.)
The presumed cost of manning a drawbridge or swing span could, I suspect, be handled with some wireless technology. With respect to safety, I doubt the bridge would be any less safe than the adjacent seawall on the south side.
If this alternative was up for serious consideration, we could then pursue the simplest and most affordable option: a ped-bike bridge under the Burrard Bridge roadway where streetcars were originally supposed to cross. That’s the reason for those holes in the bridge’s piers.
From seawall to seawall, connected to existing bikeways, it would provide a quick link for most users. Yes, there are still challenges to connect with Burrard and Hornby Streets on the north end – but that’s true for the Henriquez proposal as well. A Burrard Bridge passerelle, however, avoids the most problematic intersections and provides the choice that would likely be most used by the most people.
The lower-deck option avoids the contentiousness of dealing with native-land claims. But the greatest impediment is still political. Will the federal govermnent come to the table, prepared to allow a low-level crossing under the Navigable Waters Act, which gives it jurisdiction in False Creek? Would sailors and other users of the Creek be prepared to make some trade-offs on access, as would cyclists, who would have to accept delays when the passerelle is open?
We won’t know until we ask. Read more »