What’s the Future of Vancouver’s Viaducts?

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One of the biggest urban planning discussions in Vancouver right now revolves around the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts. These roads connect the downtown core and Eastside neighbourhoods, functioning as a flyover-like overpass. The current iteration was built in 1972 – it was originally conceptualized as part of a larger freeway system that never came to fruition. Each day, around 45,000 vehicles use the viaducts. However, on January 31 City Council will decide whether to demolish the viaducts and replace them with a new road configuration.

What would the potential replacement entail? Firstly, between BC Place Stadium and Rogers Arena we will see West Georgia Street extended from Beatty Street to Pacific Boulevard, and a bi-directional four lane ramp will be added. Additionally, Pacific Boulevard will be reconfigured to absorb traffic from the viaducts and Expo Boulevard. The updated Pacific Boulevard will be bi-directional east of its meeting point on the extended West Georgia Street.

The new road plan would be at grade and would coincide with extensive redevelopment of Northeast False Creek. The vision includes thousands of new residential units to accommodate around 12,000 new residents, in the midst of a mixed-use area. A major part of the plan is a new 11 acre park built from the existent Creekside Park and a community centre with an ice rink at the Plaza of Nations site. These developments and improvements to the public realm would cost the City $1.7 billion; the municipal government is optimistic it could offset some of this cost via developer-related revenues, sale or lease of City-owned land, and partnerships with non-profits. The viaduct demolition, and subsequent road construction at ground level, would cost $360 million.

It’s possible this area might receive another elevated arterial road in the future. This road would be an overpass above the railway, stretching through the False Creek Flats from the eastern end of the NE False Creek arterial road to Clark Drive. The final price tag is unknown but initial estimates place this project’s cost at up to $230 million.

Viaduct demolition means dramatic changes for downtown Vancouver – if you’re curious how this decision might impact housing markets, let’s get in touch!