It is true, metro Vancouver for its population has a very small amount of layered roads (viaducts and tunnels) compared to both European and Asian cities. In fact the viaducts we have are a great example that one can build short elevated structures to alleviate traffic without building an entire freeway (again, the viaducts are not a freeway, despite the fact they call them a freeway on news 1130
Has anyone ever noticed that that part of downtown has the best flow of traffic? I know I have, if one is leaving downtown by car to the east the only way to go is by the Georgia viaduct. Hastings??? Forget it!
Also the viaducts give us an excuse to build structures such as the urban skate park in areas that would normally be bulldozed for condos. They create a little urban variety in our city! Honestly, the area around the stadiums and the Costco (along with the new condo developments that build around the ducts) is one of the most interesting urban places downtown, simply because the developments have to be more creative (look at the proposed GM tower)
Sometimes i feel like I am the only one who is starting to find that if everything becomes a Yaletown in Vancouver our city will be very very bland. The developers have more than enough land along NEFC to develop on without the removal of the ducts.
Also, how is an elevated highway any more of a barrier then a rail line, a row of towers, a creek, etc... The only problem is the city has not been pro-active enough in incorporating the area into the urban fabric. For example, along Main street or the skate park, or between the cleaned up and redeveloped international village and the stadiums, the ducts are no more of a barrier than any other street or row of towers in this city (to bad the lefties can not blame a highway for the east west divide between the commercial heart downtown and the east side, or the north south divide between West Pender and Hastings). I guess we should tear down everything that divides those areas, because that has to be the cause of the divide!
Here are some pics in Japan where the areas under viaducts can actually be destinations!
Not to mention parking garages, malls, parks and other facilities are all built under these viaducts. It is amaing!
Oh yeah, and to put Vancouver NIMBYism into perspective (for those who complain about noise, lights, viaducts, billboards, etc...) this is what highways look like in Japan, or I should say, here is what real cities look like when they build to conserve land and keep people moving all ways possible.
As one can see commercial traffic flows pretty good through Asian cities (and European ones, for they have these and tunnels as well).
Also, someone noted that the ducts were a remnant of the 1970s, very incorrect, they were actually a replacement of older viaducts in the same spot that were built in 1913-1915. So these ducts are actually part of our historical urban fabric!
All pics are my own.