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Old Posted Oct 16, 2009, 7:01 PM
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Time for Vancouver to Tear Down Its Viaducts?

Time for Vancouver to Tear Down Its Viaducts?

surprised this wasnt posted yet....

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Time for Vancouver to Tear Down Its Viaducts?

Removing leftover chunks of freeway could transform part of the city.

By Geoff Meggs, Today, TheTyee.ca

On or about Feb. 12, 2010, security personnel preparing for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games will close the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, shutting down the last elements of what city fathers once believed would be a massive inner-city freeway system.

The freeways were defeated in the 1960s in an all-out citywide debate that saved Chinatown and Strathcona and turned Vancouver away from the destructive development embraced by so many American cities.

But the two viaducts remain, pumping traffic through eastside neighbourhoods and bisecting what could be a new, sustainable North False Creek neighbourhood in the heart of the city.

Now, at last, the Olympics will close them.

When other cities picked the car in the 1960s, Vancouver picked community, neighbourhoods and sustainability.

The Olympic shutdown, as well as pressure for development on the north side of False Creek, challenges us to ask if it's time to make that choice again. Are the viaducts pointing to the future or holding us in the past?
Michael Ableman in person. October 21st, 2009

San Francisco's experience

If an earthquake shook the viaducts down, would we rebuild them?

If our future looks better without them, should we continue to assume they must remain?

San Francisco confronted this question when the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake knocked down the Embarcadero and Central Freeways. Although voters had just rejected a 1986 plan to tear it down, fearing gridlock, drivers soon adjusted to its absence.

The Embarcadero's removal in 1991 revitalized the city's waterfront: part thoroughfare, part parkway and part park, it began to revive a neighbourhood damaged from decades of neglect triggered by the freeway.

A redesigned False Creek road system, without the viaducts, could transform today's landscape of asphalt and freeway pillars into a new neighbourhood. Up to five city blocks -- each with the potential of another Woodwards project worth hundreds of millions of dollars -- could be freed from the concrete and opened up for people.

Idea backed by architect Bing Thom

That's why many of the city's leading planners and architects keep returning to this problem as major developments around False Creek move forward.
YES, TEAR IT DOWN

Vancouver area blogger Paul Hillsdon uses historical photos and maps in making his own case for demolishing the viaducts. Find his post here.

Notable among them is architect Bing Thom, who gathered expert engineering and traffic analysis that supports the feasibility of removing the viaducts, as well as the potential revenue that could flow for taxpayers.

This new neighbourhood would not only connect Yaletown, Chinatown, City Gate and the Downtown Eastside with each other, but opens the door to a careful long-term planning process for the East False Creek Flats, the city's last major brownfield development opportunity.

How planners and engineers solve the complex road and traffic issues on the Flats –- with its rapid transit, passenger and freight rail links as well as its incredible development potential –- will have an impact on neighbourhoods all the way to Boundary Road.

But any solution is likely to be second-best if we fail to test the options for the viaducts first.

Vestiges of a rejected freeway

The viaducts remain a dark force in an otherwise blossoming downtown. Despite the 1968 decision against freeways, they continue to shape the development of the city.

No major development around or on the north False Creek lands can go ahead without confronting the viaducts, with their massive bulk, traffic and noise.

A case in point is a report expected to come before council on Oct. 22, when Vancouver city council will consider proposals for a major increase in density around BC Place, GM Place and the Plaza of Nations.

These new developments, if approved, would be in addition to long-anticipated projects by Concord Pacific on the remaining Expo Lands, adding thousands of new jobs and residents to the area.

For residents on all sides of northeast False Creek, who have been waiting a long time for a promised Creekside Park in the middle of the area, this is all disturbing news.

It seems to them that parks and other amenities generated by Concord's plans may also be forced to meet the needs of the new residents in other projects. The park will be asked to bear a bigger load even before it is built.

Park development will only come when two conditions are met: Concord is ready to develop two parcels on the future park's western edge and the province has delivered on its commitment to clean up contaminated soil. Could the park design being changed achieve a better community resource, reduce the cost of clean-up and move forward the day it is built? There is compelling evidence it could, but planners still have their backs against the wall formed by the Georgia Viaduct.

Explore the options

Infrastructure like the viaducts can't be discarded lightly. New road connections would be needed. But the purpose of infrastructure is to support sustainable development, not hold it back.

The viaducts are the remnant of a road strategy citizens rejected 40 years ago, but they remain in place, reducing Vancouver's opportunities to grow.

A council decision on the northeast False Creek proposals doesn't need to wait for the fate of the viaducts to be resolved.

But the Olympic closures are a good time to ask some basic questions.

Do the viaducts help us ensure a better future for Vancouver?

Or is it time to replace them with something better?
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  #2  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2009, 7:12 PM
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Down with cars! Except the big polluting trucks that deliver my MacBook to the Apple Store, and coffee beans to the Starbucks.

I really don't have any other opinion on this But, any time there's a chance to illogically bash cars...
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  #3  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2009, 7:12 PM
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Honestyl?

They are essentially the only good option downtown for anyone driving a commercial vehicle. Also, my favorite part of downtown is where the stadiums, the skytrain and the viaducts meet, it is the only spot in our region where one can find a true "urban" beauty. In that one spot it feels so busy, two levels of roads (one serving local, one serving regional), trains, pedestrians, stadiums, towers, LED signs, it great! In fact, such a feature can force developers to be more creative in their designs, creating far more enticing neighborhoods than Yale Town, it also gives a little bit of shove to actually build something besides condos near the ducts. The skate park is another example of a true urban vibe not found elsewhere in this city. There is no reason why night market grounds, more park space or even a multi-story parking garage for the stadiums can not be built under these viaducts! How about even creating a funky urban art gallery? Also, is it not a prime spot to place city work utilities?

Honestly, I don't want every corner of this city to be a Yaletown for developers to ching ching on.

I am probably the minority in this case, but oh well, I can always go back to Asia where one can find elevated highways and train structures that are so well implemented into the urban fabric, that they themselves become an attraction.

Again, I like them, because they add just a little bit or urban variety in a city that while amazing, can become somewhat repetative.
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  #4  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2009, 7:28 PM
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Ya, this treehugger doesn't see the big picture. Those routes are pretty busy right now.. where would the traffic go? It won't disappear.

Although the Dunsmuir viaduct is a little awkward with the entrance off Main, it still takes traffic away from Pacific Blvd.

It does present some interesting challenges for the city's NEFC plan, but just makes it more interesting IMHO.
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  #5  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2009, 7:29 PM
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Ya, this treehugger doesn't see the big picture. Those routes are pretty busy right now.. where would the traffic go?
Helium powered personal balloons.
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  #6  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2009, 3:10 AM
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Originally Posted by WarrenC12 View Post
Ya, this treehugger doesn't see the big picture. Those routes are pretty busy right now.. where would the traffic go? It won't disappear.

Although the Dunsmuir viaduct is a little awkward with the entrance off Main, it still takes traffic away from Pacific Blvd.

It does present some interesting challenges for the city's NEFC plan, but just makes it more interesting IMHO.
Well you know TheTyee.ca is probably the most left-wing of all media outlets in BC (and BC is generally already left-wing socialist), a haven for all types of far-left extremists (union appeasers, tree huggers you know it). Anyone except them would know that development needs to be balanced.
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  #7  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2009, 5:12 PM
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Originally Posted by WarrenC12 View Post
Ya, this treehugger doesn't see the big picture. Those routes are pretty busy right now.. where would the traffic go? It won't disappear.

Although the Dunsmuir viaduct is a little awkward with the entrance off Main, it still takes traffic away from Pacific Blvd.

It does present some interesting challenges for the city's NEFC plan, but just makes it more interesting IMHO.
Yes the traffic will disappear. In Seoul, South Korea, they removed an elevated freeway (which used to carry 180,000 vehicles a day) that bisected the dense city, replacing it with park and a day lighting a buried river. No new roads were built. When asked where the traffic went, planners shrugged. They had no idea. Traffic on other roads was no worse than before the viaducts were demolished.

Quote:
Of course, this evidence doesn’t suggest that all road expansions are unnecessary, or that all highways should be removed. All of the highway demolitions cited above are in densely packed urban areas where other highways and reliable and convenient public transportation options are available. But the lesson is clear: If a major road is making a city a less livable and vital place that it would otherwise be, in many cases everyone benefits when politicians have the vision and guts to tear it down.
Source: link below

The opposite of "If you build it they will come" is "If you remove it they will go".

BTW - it will be a mistake to try to replace the capacity by widening or improving other roads. Best bet, just tear it down and replace the grid for dense development and parks

Check out this link for more information:
http://www.infrastructurist.com/2009...p-save-a-city/
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  #8  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2009, 6:12 PM
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And if you keep going down that path you will slowly but surely turn downtown into a suburb. Actually more of a resort than a suburb. And that process is already taking place given that new office space is being added along the Broadway/Lougheed corridor and in Burnaby, Surrey and other places. Who knows, maybe one day in not too distant future Metrotown becomes the new business center/downtown of Metro Vancouver.
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  #9  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2009, 6:46 PM
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And if you keep going down that path you will slowly but surely turn downtown into a suburb. Actually more of a resort than a suburb. And that process is already taking place given that new office space is being added along the Broadway/Lougheed corridor and in Burnaby, Surrey and other places. Who knows, maybe one day in not too distant future Metrotown becomes the new business center/downtown of Metro Vancouver.
Agreed. Just another idiocy from Gregor and his Green Goons, in their attempt to make downtown Vancouver as relevant and vibrant as Brentwood Mall.

Couple that with the assinine idea of removing the ramps from the Granville Street bridge.
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  #10  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2009, 3:25 AM
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And if you keep going down that path you will slowly but surely turn downtown into a suburb. Actually more of a resort than a suburb. And that process is already taking place given that new office space is being added along the Broadway/Lougheed corridor and in Burnaby, Surrey and other places. Who knows, maybe one day in not too distant future Metrotown becomes the new business center/downtown of Metro Vancouver.
The hyperbole isn't necessary.

If you understood the regional development plans, you would know that the goal is in fact to create decentralized town centres where people can live, work, and play in the same community. So yes, downtown isn't nearly as important as the other town centres become more complete. We are not attempting to be Toronto or any other number of cities where people live in the burbs and travel into downtown for work everyday.
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  #11  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2009, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by lightrail View Post
Yes the traffic will disappear. In Seoul, South Korea, they removed an elevated freeway (which used to carry 180,000 vehicles a day) that bisected the dense city, replacing it with park and a day lighting a buried river. No new roads were built. When asked where the traffic went, planners shrugged. They had no idea. Traffic on other roads was no worse than before the viaducts were demolished.
If the traffic wasn't easily identifiable on another route or mode of transportation, then that just means the people stopped making those travel trips. Which is a big problem, IMO, if you are investing the region's resources in our downtown peninsula. If the goal is simply to have less people travelling into downtown, then we should let the regional planners know, so we can stop building transit infrastructure to downtown (3rd seabus, streetcar, SkyTrain...) and build them to somewhere else instead. But I think the goal is to change the people's mode of transportation over time, not to stop people from making those trips at all.
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  #12  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2009, 5:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightrail View Post
Yes the traffic will disappear. In Seoul, South Korea, they removed an elevated freeway (which used to carry 180,000 vehicles a day) that bisected the dense city, replacing it with park and a day lighting a buried river. No new roads were built. When asked where the traffic went, planners shrugged. They had no idea. Traffic on other roads was no worse than before the viaducts were demolished.
And the traffic all just disappeared huh? Riiiigggghhhht.

Got a link or any proof of this?
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  #13  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2009, 7:48 PM
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I think they should stay too. At least for now. It is one of the most effective ways to get rush hour into downtown, and if it wasn't for the size and speed of the viaduct, rush hour traffic heading out of town would clog streets in the downtown.

Just like how the Granville bridge keeps traffic moving on Howe, the Viaduct keeps it moving on Georgia. Losing the Dunsmuir Viaduct might not have much of an effect (Except increase volume on Expo 3 fold) but I think losing the Georgia Vaiduct would be akin to making the Lions Gate Bridge a single lane out of downtown 24 hours a day. Traffic on Georgia would be so bad it would block the flow South towards the bridges.

People complain about traffic downtown, but I think when all the lanes are open without lazy construction closing them, traffic flows into and out of downtown really well to the east.

If there is a problem with the viaducts, it's not the viaducts themselves, but the intersections on Main street. A single left turn lane from Main onto Terminal just isn't enough. The Viaduct needs to go someplace better, not a freeway, but something better than Prior street. I think if they built the Malkin overpass and build a very elegant intersection at Clarke, it would really help the situation.

On top of it, I don't think much space could be reclaimed if you tear them down. You could only reclaim about a 2 blocks worth. That would be what, 3 buildings for the wealthy to move into? Making the commute for the working class worse is a high price to pay so a few hundred can get luxury condos.

I think the parking lot between Abbott and Carrall could be put to good use even with the Viaducts there. Imagine something along the lines of the Van City building, but better.

I think with some good urban design, NEFC can be a good neighbourhood incorporating the Viaducts.

Think of it like this, if the Vaducts go, that means ALL traffic leaving downtown would be a street level, clogging intersection and making crossing the street a challenge. Now couple that with a Canucks game. It would be a disaster.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2012, 4:04 PM
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Honestyl?

They are essentially the only good option downtown for anyone driving a commercial vehicle. Also, my favorite part of downtown is where the stadiums, the skytrain and the viaducts meet, it is the only spot in our region where one can find a true "urban" beauty. In that one spot it feels so busy, two levels of roads (one serving local, one serving regional), trains, pedestrians, stadiums, towers, LED signs, it great! In fact, such a feature can force developers to be more creative in their designs, creating far more enticing neighborhoods than Yale Town, it also gives a little bit of shove to actually build something besides condos near the ducts. The skate park is another example of a true urban vibe not found elsewhere in this city. There is no reason why night market grounds, more park space or even a multi-story parking garage for the stadiums can not be built under these viaducts! How about even creating a funky urban art gallery? Also, is it not a prime spot to place city work utilities?

Honestly, I don't want every corner of this city to be a Yaletown for developers to ching ching on.

I am probably the minority in this case, but oh well, I can always go back to Asia where one can find elevated highways and train structures that are so well implemented into the urban fabric, that they themselves become an attraction.

Again, I like them, because they add just a little bit or urban variety in a city that while amazing, can become somewhat repetative.
They are noisy, terrible, doning nothing for community.

Wait, I have an Idea....what if we could connect quebec st to kingsway and then put a exit to georgia and dinsmore streets...
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Old Posted Jan 7, 2012, 5:04 PM
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They are noisy, terrible, doning nothing for community.
You could say the Expo line tracks are the exactly same thing......
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Old Posted Jan 7, 2012, 5:14 PM
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You could say the Expo line tracks are the exactly same thing......
You could...
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  #17  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2012, 6:42 PM
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not to mention the Granville Bridge approaches, the Cambie Bridge and ramps and the Burrard Bridge, which now all hove condo towers and other structures being built directly beside them and in a few cases, under them.

I have failed to see how these structure are any different. look at the residential units built (and being built) directly beside the Cambie Bridge, or all the towers right along the Granville Street bridge.

But if only 1 viaduct were to remain, it would have to be the georgia viaduct. Traffic flows so well out of downtown right now, i have never been stuck in a jam using Georgia street to the viaduct, so something tells me that design is working, and if it were to be removed we would simply be creating a new unnecessary traffic headache, in the end making the city around Georgia less pedestrian friendly and green.

The Dunsmir viaduct does have some traffic issues entering downtown, but whether this is due to the poor design of the bike lane (which, while I do support, I also feel it was not implemented properly).

That being said, the western end of the Dunsmir viaduct would have to remain regardless due to all its connectivity and how it has been built into the Colours development and Rogers Arena (among other utilities)
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  #18  
Old Posted Jan 8, 2012, 11:32 PM
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The Dunsmir viaduct does have some traffic issues entering downtown, but whether this is due to the poor design of the bike lane (which, while I do support, I also feel it was not implemented properly).
When I cycled from Poco to downtown Vancouver for two months, I only ever used Dunsmuir eastbound once. It's useless, the traffic lights are timed in the westbound direction so you hit a red light every two lights. Going eastbound on Dunsmuir, I can do 40km/h the from Granville all the way to Main St. My commute was 32km long each way, I'm not going to waste 5 minutes stopped at red light after red light just for the sake of supporting bike lanes.
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  #19  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2012, 8:24 PM
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Originally Posted by fredinno View Post
They are noisy, terrible, doning nothing for community.

Wait, I have an Idea....what if we could connect quebec st to kingsway and then put a exit to georgia and dinsmore streets...
Where is Dinsmore Street?

The viaducts are no noisier than any other road, or Skytrain line.
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  #20  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2012, 10:24 PM
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Where is Dinsmore Street?

The viaducts are no noisier than any other road, or Skytrain line.
Oh yeah, I edited the plan so we should close Dinsumire Viaduct or something... (I forgot how to spell Dusmire)
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