The City of Vancouver is asking the public to weigh in on the fate of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, which are crossed by about 40,000 vehicles per day but occupy valuable development space between Chinatown and the downtown core.

Councillor Geoff Meggs acknowledged the viaducts are key traffic arteries for commuters who work downtown, but said the space is too important not to assess for alternative uses.

"It's a terrific 45-second sprint up above if you're in a car. Underneath not much is happening," Meggs said. "[This is] our last chance to ask whether we've got the best setup here or whether we could do better."

Council is meeting Tuesday to review a number of prepared plans that could see the viaducts demolished entirely or merely reduced in size.

The first scenario would see portions of the viaducts removed, bringing them to street level at Main Street for a 20-per-cent reduction in capacity.

Another would see one of the viaducts torn down while the other is opened up for two-way traffic. The final option would remove both viaducts while making necessary adjustments for increased pedestrian, cyclist and transit trips into the downtown core.

James Johnston of the Strathcona Residents Association hopes that traffic in the neighbourhood can be reduced, regardless of the outcome of the study.

Prior Street, which connects to the Georgia viaduct, is becoming particularly dangerous, Johnston said. "There are a number of people who have been struck by cars going through there," he said.

The viaducts were originally intended to connect to a massive freeway through Vancouver which was abandoned in the 1960s.

Without them, city staff argues there's still room for traffic to divert onto parallel streets such as Expo and Pacific boulevards. The city will be proceeding with a more detailed analysis of the viaducts' removal and the subsequent impact on transportation into 2012.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber