City Engineer Jerry Dobrovolny, when asked about controversy surrounding changes to the Burrard Bridge, notes that this has always been the case.
Prior to construction of the bridge in 1932, there was a referendum to approve the cost (probably in the late 1920s). It was defeated.
Why? Because the original design lacked room for pedestrian crossings and made no accommodation for streetcars. Vancouverites weren’t going to settle for that. The trestle across False Creek just to the east (removed in 1982) had been built only for the railway, and the people of Vancouver, even then, had higher priorities. Like being able to cross False Creek on foot.
The Bartholomew Plan of 1929 proposed an extension of the streetcar system for a new bridge extending Burrard to Cedar Street (still the name of the road past 16th Avenue), providing for a new streetcar line along Cornwall to Stephens.
So the design by architect G.L. Thornton Sharp and engineer John Grant not only had sidewalks on the bridge deck but, in the piers below, cutaways to accommodate tracks for a streetcar line that, sadly, was never built.
We narrowly avoided that dreaded “Kingsway Extension” shown in the Bartholomew Plan! It was still being protected through Main Street while you were on Council, Gord.
A ped cycling bridge in that location would relieve some of the pressure off Science World area and Cambie Bridge cycling paths. Also would make a more direct walking path into downtown for many residents..
The planned Active bridge/ramp from Creekside Park to Dunsmuir, for people walking and on bikes, will run very close to that location. The Science World bike path will be supplemented with new protected bike lanes on Quebec, and the Cambie Bridge bike path will be supplemented with a protected lane for bikes southbound. Both those moves will add capacity for people walking and people on bikes.
I think it would be cheaper to just improve the Cambie bridge. While it does have a wider than typical walking/cycling path on the east side it should be even wider or a new cycling path created or something. That should be done before any new bridge.
Don Luxton’s report also cited, as reasons for not having streetcars on the road deck:
– incompatibility between the grades of the approaches with the required clearance for marine navigation (i.e. the approaches would have had to have been made longer and shallower)
– the unsightly overhead power lines required for the streetcars (i.e. would the City now allow trolley bus wires to be erected on the bridge?)