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District mayor weighs in on rapid transit routes linking North Shore to Vancouver
Published Tuesday, March 3, 2020 11:19AM PST Last Updated Tuesday, March 3, 2020 11:21AM PST
VANCOUVER -- Six potential rapid transit crossings have been proposed in an effort to combat traffic congestion for commuters traveling between Vancouver and the North Shore.
The province is considering three tunnel options for its Burrard Inlet Rapid Transit Study, including one from First Narrows to Lonsdale, one linking Lonsdale to Brockton Point and another from downtown Vancouver to West Vancouver.
They're also looking at two bridge routes, which include building a new Second Narrows bridge from Vancouver for transit and a new Second Narrows bridge from Burnaby. The final option being considered is a complete facelift of the current Second Narrows bridge. The next phase of the project is a $500,000 study to determine which one is the best option.
District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little sat down with CTV Morning Live Tuesday to discuss the different crossings and what they would mean for the region.
CML: Give us a sense of what the reaction has been since these proposals came out, is there an early favourite to any of these plans?
Little: There's been a lot of very positive reaction to it. This is the biggest issue facing our community. Transportation both for the public and for our businesses, being able to get people to and from their work is the most critical issue…I think people are just excited to see something on a map that shows that progress is coming in this area.
CML: Just how bad is it, do you hear this complaint everyday?
Little: Every day. The lineups to and from the North Shore are routinely six or seven kilometres. In the morning rush it's so easy to just say, "It's lined up in the Burnaby Lake stretch, that's an eleven kilometre long line up to the North Shore," so it definitely affects peoples daily habits…you may decide not to take trips. You hope your kids swimming lessons aren't on the wrong side of the bridge. It affects us on a daily basis.
CML: I imagine economically as well it does impact the movement of goods on a regular basis and people if they can't get where they need to be?
Little: Definitely. It's just unreliable. People attempt to get to and from, they think they can plan their day accordingly and you just never know. All it takes is one accident for the whole area to shut down.
CML: You have six options here and of course there's going to be a variety of opinions on this. For you personally, do you like the bridge or tunnel?
Little: If transportation is our number one issue on the North Shore then number two is affordability. And I happen to think that the more eastern options give us a better opportunity to tie in some affordability to it and the western options go through the most expensive postal codes in the area. I would say the eastern options gives us a better opportunity to tie in to those affordability options.
CML: We don't have specific price tags on any of these but tunneling versus building a bridge is going to play into cost as well?
Little: Definitely. The lines on the map don't really tell you the story but it actually gets very deep very close to the North Shore and so the angle you'd have to come back up from the deepest point is complicated.
CML: What is the realistic timeline here? Are we going to see this in the next 10 years?
Little: We have to turn a study into a plan into a regional priority, this is all part of that process. But making better use of the infrastructure is definitely going to be the cheapest option and the shortest term option. That's why I think we definitely have to take a serious look at what we can do with the existing infrastructure at the Ironworkers Memorial bridge specifically.
CML: Would this be focused on more vehicle traffic or is this specifically looking at SkyTrain options?
Little: This is a rapid transit connection that we're talking about to the North Shore for this particular study. We haven't had a lane increase to the North Shore since 1968. The population has more than doubled since that time. But moving forward, I think the focus does need to be on transit utilization.
CML: I want to talk a bit more about the Second Narrows as you seem to like the eastern option. What do you think is the best way, the existing one or to add another bridge right beside it?
Little: We still have a lot of technical feasibility work that would need to take place on the Second Narrows bridge to decide whether or not you could actually use the bridge infrastructure that's there. But I do see that as having the potential to trim 10 years of time off this project. Then we're looking in the very near future and to make better utilization of the existing infrastructure.
CML: But it's not just a crossing we're talking about, if that is your favourite option and that ends up being the option that they go with, all the infrastructure on either side of that crossing would have to be adjusted as well?
Little: I would say so but I think it has the opportunity to tie in some really critical pieces on that eastern side. Could you imagine rapid transit to the PNE, for example. Could you imagine rapid transit connecting the BCIT corridor through Willingdon? There's a lot of opportunities in that corridor to tie up major infrastructure in places that people are already going as well as future growth potential.
CML: Can we talk about the public consultations, are there a lot of meetings for people to weigh in?
Little: Absolutely, we want to hear peoples comments on this, it will be the largest infrastructure decision that we have to make for the North Shore for a long time to come.
CML: Do you have any anticipation of what kind of money we're talking about? What's the range that we could be looking at?
Little: It's easy to muse with no money on the table. But with any of these infrastructure pieces, we are going to be talking in the billions of dollars. It will have to be a regional priority that we partner with provincial and federal government on. But I have to say so far, there's been a lot of really great coordination going on between the different levels of government on this project.