It sounds ambitious because it is: the City of Vancouver is going to remove its two viaducts. These twin bridges that span 2.6 kilometres (Georgia and Dunsmuir) weigh 67,800 tonnes, are historic city structures, but will soon make way for what will be downtown Vancouver's newest community: False Creek Northeast.
Built from 26,500 cubic metres of concrete – the equivalent of 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools – daily volumes on the viaducts range from about 14,000 vehicles crossing the Dunsmuir structure to 21,000 on Georgia, numbers that have been decreasing since 1996. So the city has realized they're not needed anymore and wants to revitalize the area with a new master plan. Good on them.
The city’s vision for the area after removal of the viaducts is quite frankly spectacular. The redeveloped Northeast False Creek, which will take decades to complete, will house upwards of 12,000 new residents and include 1,800 new social housing units and 32 acres of renewed and new park space. The city also estimates an economic benefit to the public of $1.7 billion when development is completed, factoring in 8,000 new jobs. This represents about $360 million worth of investment to take the viaducts down and build a new community.
The city’s report on the new community also noted the viaducts will be replaced with a new Pacific Boulevard and Georgia Street and that studies have shown the new street network will be able to handle “100% of the current and future traffic volume and will be better adapted to accommodating improved options for moving around the area.”
Future plans also include a streetcar network, and looking at the ample park space, how can one not applaud this move? With each new move, downtown Vancouver's future looks brighter and brighter. With the new casino, hotel and a revitalized BC Place selling out shows and games, one can only imagine what's in store for this vibrant area as we move forward.