a photographer talks

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vancouver's viaduct or shopping for a freeway

Other blogs on this subject and the meeting of April 7, 2011


'In September 1965, Vancouver ratepayers were asked to vote on a $ 10 million money by-law authorizing City Council to replace the structurally unsafe Georgia Viaduct. Assuming this meant simply putting up a new viaduct, voters passed the by-law.

There was no indication that the viaduct would be part of a freeway system, since Vancouver had yet to adopt (as far as the public knew). However, City Council had refused to accept the City Engineer's proposal for the Viaduct. Instead, they decided to approach the province and see if financing could be arranged for Phase One of the original 1959 freeway plan. They were flatly refused by the Provincial and federal government.

Undaunted, the city hired Phillips, Barratt and Partners in late 1965, to study a new alinement for the Georgia Viaduct and to advise council on street planning in the urban renewal area to consider certain "freeway components" when designing a new viaducts - eg 1) an east/west freeway along Venables and/or Prior Street; 2) a waterfront freeway and a Brockton Point Crossing; and 3) a north/south freeway along Main Street. None of these were officially adopted by city council.

The first Georgia Street Viaduct was built between 1913 and 1915. The narrow structure included streetcar tracks that were never used. It was a poorly built structure which, over the years, threatened pedestrians below with falling pieces of concrete. At one point, every second lamppost was removed to remove weight. It was replaced in 1972 by the current viaduct, which is structurally separated and contains three lanes for each direction of traffic.

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