City of Vancouver looking at slashing number of car lanes on Granville Bridge in half

The City of Vancouver is proposing changes to the Granville Bridge, which could see the number of car lanes on the span slashed in half.

A report to council next Wednesday, if approved, would call on staff to hold public consultations on a plan to reallocate the bridge’s four centre lanes “for the creation of an accessible path so people can comfortably walk, use wheelchairs, stroller and other devices and cycle across the bridge.”

The upgrades would be concurrent to already needed rehabilitation and seismic upgrades slated for the bridge.

Construction on rehabilitation and seismic upgrades for the bridge have already begun, but the report says combining it with creating the new walking and cycling paths would reduce costs and public impacts.

$25 million for Granville Bridge upgrades has already been allocated in the 2019-2022 capital plan.

The report envisions the new pathways as a part of the city’s Transportation 2040 plan, which calls for eliminating gaps in the city’s walking and cycling network, along with improvements to the bridges across False Creek.

According to the report, the Granville Bridge’s car lanes are significantly under used.

“The bridge was designed to connect to high-speed, high-volume freeways that were never built. As a result the bridge has significant excess road capacity; even if each of the streets feeding the bridge were full, the bridge itself would be relatively empty,” reads the report.

“It carries a similar traffic volume to Burrard Bridge, which has half the number of vehicle lanes.”

The report calls the Granville Bridge “one of the most glaring barriers in Vancouver’s pedestrian and cycling networks,” and says years of work have already gone into trying to determine how to improve it.

It argued that the centre lane design is the most cost effective solution, has the least impact on car travel times, and avoids problems with the bridge’s ramps and the Granville Loops on the bridge’s north end.

The plan would also connect into the now-under construction Arubutus Greenway, connecting it to the downtown cycle network.

The report also makes reference to a previously proposed elevator between Granville Island and the bridge deck. That elevator is currently being assessed in a feasibility study associated with the Granville Island 2040 plan.

The report envisions a consultation process stretching to early summer, with a more concrete plan being submitted to council by July.

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