This is a question I have been asking of not only myself, but also of our local politicians of late. Part of the reason for the question is this: Our current needs on the North Shore are dire. Ever since the completion of the new Port Mann Bridge in 2012 we have seen crippling congestion on the Ironworkers Bridge pretty much every day.
The Ironworkers Bridge is now second only to the Port Mann in all of Metro Vancouver for volume. At a recent DNV Council meeting I recalled the statistic that the Ironworkers Bridge is 82.5% of the Port Mann volume, and at 10 lanes, the Port Mann is 2/3rd more capacity than the Ironworkers. Add to that the fact they have Skytrain carrying part of the load and it’s easy to see that the North Shore, and the communities beyond, served by the Ironworkers, are woefully under-serviced.
But what is the solution? At best, we can say that the Lower Lynn Interchange improvements are a band-aid at best. In the September 19th Council Meeting the document entitled “Council Directions 2019-2022” acknowledged this where it stated “Currently, major improvements to the Highway 1 interchanges are underway but alone will not provide long-term relief”.
In the February 4, 2019 Council Workshop our Transportation Manager, Mr. Steve Carney, in his report entitled “INSTPP Priorities for the District of North Vancouver, reported that “INSTPP recommendations do not necessarily align or reflect top DNV priorities”. And he went on to recommend the we “investigate Burrard Inlet crossing improvement opportunities at Second Narrows…”.
So where do we go from here? What would it take to get “thee and me” out of our automobiles and reduce pressure on our road network? Well, the first time I had someone from the North Shore decline my offer of a ride to YVR Airport was after the Canada Line was opened. LRT or Skytrain, when and if it goes where we are going, is a viable alternative. The existing bus network on the North Shore, in the same INSTPP report described transit service on the North Shore as “among the worst performing throughout Greater Vancouver based on information provided by Translink”.
Whatever our various authorities do about North Shore Transportation, I want each piece to fit into a vision of what the whole picture ought to be 100 years from now. So imagine that picture with me if you will…
Imagine an LRT or Skytrain (Light Rail Transit) that goes from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal through to Dollarton, and maybe beyond to connect with the Evergreen Line in Port Moody. Imagine, passenger rail from Horseshoe Bay through to Pemberton. And imagine those networks going over both the Lions Gate and a new Second Narrows Bridge that would increase Highway 1 capacity, increased capacity serving the Port as well as our North Shore communities?
For me, I don’t find that the Lions Gate takes many cars places they want to go anymore — so I would be fine with converting that bridge to light-rail, cycling and pedestrian, so long as we have ample capacity over the Second Narrows.
Imagine a network of On-Demand (to your door) Community Shuttles that residents could summon via a mobile app that would take us to that LRT network within our communities. Did you know that Translink recently completed a test pilot of such a program on Bowen Island this summer?
As such, I submitted to Council a concept of such a Second Narrows Bridge that I came up with — and I am sure when experts spend time they could do even better. This idea would be a two-deck, multi-lane bridge (similar to the Ship Canal Bridge that carries the I-5 into Downtown Seattle). On the top deck, we would see the “through traffic” for Highway 1 which would include exits West of Mountain Highway. On the lower deck, LRT, Port traffic and local traffic for Main Street, Dollarton, Mount Seymour Parkway and Lynn Creek.
Maybe two decks, each six lanes, maybe more… let the engineers decide. But this could bring long-term relief, and this might still be viable 100 years from now. Why wait? Do we want the Ironworkers to become the Patullo in the foreseeable future?
Now this is one person’s view or vision of what things might look like 100 years from now. Am I right? Probably not. But here is the thing: Who else is asking this question? I hope more than just me. Let’s start having the conversation.
Peter Teevan has lived in DNV for 31 years and has worked in the transportation sector for almost 40. He has run for council position in the District of North Vancouver.