In a new comprehensive approach to bridges, the City completed the rehabilitation of the 85-year-old Burrard Bridge. The historic crossing at the mouth of False Creek now provides safe access for all modes of travel, and all ages and abilities, while continuing to serve as a busy arterial road. Separation was increased between people walking, cycling, and driving; sidewalks were built on both sides of the bridge; suicide prevention measures were incorporated into the bridge wall design, including fencing and crisis phones; and protected signal phases were created for different road users at each end of the bridge. The work was coordinated with water and sewer upgrades, and with the redesign of intersections at both ends of the bridge. Attention to the heritage legacy resulted in the restoration of deteriorating concrete handrails and reproduction of previously abandoned pedestrian lighting.
The City of Vancouver adopts new approach to bridge-building, managing the bridge for all road users while enhancing heritage, safety and mobility access, and incorporating suicide prevention measures.
Separate driving and bike lanes, and suicide prevention measures were added to the list of extensive structural repairs undertaken on the Burrard Bridge. The work, begun in 2014 and costing $3.5-million, was completed Oct. 21, 2017.
- The road network is managed efficiently for all road users. Walking and cycling are more convenient and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.
- The new approach to bridges is expected to inform the process for upgrading the Cambie and Granville bridges.
- Encouraging travel by foot, bike and transit contributes to the region’s goal of having at least two-thirds of all trips on foot, bike, or transit by 2040.
- The redesign and upgrades enhance public safety, include suicide prevention measures and retain heritage values of the bridge that opened 85 years ago.
- The Burrard Bridge, opened in 1932, is one of the only truly Art Deco bridges in the world. The bridge cost $3-million (in 1930 currency) to build. The architect was G. L Thornton Sharp, of the firm Sharp and Thompson.
- The central piers, with City of Vancouver’s crest of arms, mask a network of steel in the truss from the approaches. The prows of boats with figureheads representing Captain George Vancouver and Captain Harry Burrard (a friend of Captain Vancouver’s who never came to the city) are on the piers supporting the gallery. Immense pylons are at each end with braziers that are a memorial to World War One. The sculptures are the work of Charles Marega.
- The rehabilitation of the bridge included increasing the separation between people walking, cycling, and driving. Sidewalks were built on both sides of the bridge. Protected signal phases were created for different road users.
- Burrard Bridge is the first bridge in Vancouver, but the third Lower Mainland bridge to have physical barriers installed. Barriers have been erected on the Second Narrows and Golden Ears bridges.
- BC Coroner’s Service in 2008 recommended suicide prevention barriers on all bridges in the Vancouver region. Research shows that suicide barriers are effective in creating immediate safety and preventing suicides.
- The Crisis Centre, a volunteer non-profit organization, has advocated for suicide barrier on the Burrard, Granville, Ironworkers, Lions Gate and Pattullo bridges.
- On average, there has been at least one death from the Burrard Bridge every year. Over the span of a year, 17 VPD calls were logged as a suicidal individual at the Burrard Bridge.
- The suicide prevention fence has a simple picket design with vertical details and heritage-style lamp posts. The city designed the fence in consultation with Vancouver Heritage Commission, The Heritage Foundation, Heritage Vancouver Society, Active Transportation Policy Council, Urban Design Panel, Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Crisis Centre, Vancouver Police Department, film and television industry.
- To protect the heritage value of the bridge, concrete handrails were restored and previously abandoned pedestrian lighting reproduced.
- More than 60 new trees were planted at the intersection at the north end of the bridge and on surrounding blocks, including a treed median on Pacific Street between Howe and Hornby
- Bridge repairs began in 2014. City council approved the upgrades on July 22, 2015 and construction began in spring 2016.
- TransLink’s Major Road Network program, ICBC’s Road Improvement program, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund contributed to the cost of the work.
- City of Vancouver website. Burrard Street Corridor Project. Retrieved Nov 6, 2017
- City of Vancouver website. Burrard Bridge and Pacific Street Intersection Upgrades. Retrieved Nov 30, 2017
- City of Vancouver news release
- Clark, Gordon. The Province Spend money on mental health services, not bridge suicide barriers. July 5, 2017. Retrieved Nov 6, 2017.
- Crisis Centre website. Retrieved Nov 6, 2017.
- Davis, Chuck. The History of Metropolitan Vancouver
Prepared by: Robert Matas, Vancouver City Planning Commission Chronology Committee
Revised: Thursday, November 30, 2017