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.
Upgrade of Burrard Bridge enhances heritage, safety and mobility access
A new approach to bridge-building led to a redesign of the roadway for all ages and abilities, with bike lanes separated from vehicular traffic. Suicide prevention measures were incorporated during extensive structural repairs without compromising the heritage values. The work, begun in 2014 and costing $3.5-million, was completed Oct. 21, 2017.
- Walking and cycling on the Burrard Bridge are now more convenient and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities as a result of the reconstruction. The bridge was redesigned for all road users. motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Sidewalks were built on both sides of the bridge. Signals were phased to match different users. The process of bridge-building adopted for the Burrard Bridge is expected to inform the process for upgrading other city bridges, including the Granville Bridge.
- Vancouver City Council moved ahead with a highly controversial policy and stuck to the plan despite outspoken criticism. By the time the work was completed, all controversy had dissipated and the project was considered a success.
- The Burrard Bridge, which opened in 1932, is one of the only truly Art Deco bridges in the world. The bridge has sculptures by Charles Marega and immense pylons at each end with braziers that are a memorial to World War One.
- The bridge-redesign project is intended to encourage travel by foot, bike and transit as one of the initiatives contributing to the region’s goal of having at least two-thirds of all trips on foot, bike, or transit by 2040.
- 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 of Vancouver 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 lost pedestrian lighting reproduced.
- The construction project was used as an opportunity to increase the city tree canopy. 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. Vancouver 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. The work, begun in 2014 and costing $3.5-million, was completed Oct. 21, 2017.
- 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
- Crisis Centre website. Retrieved Nov 6, 2017.
- Davis, Chuck. The History of Metropolitan Vancouver
- Gordie Award for Biggest Transportation Event in 2017~The Burrard Bridge! Price Tags, January 2, 2018
- Spend money on mental health services, not bridge suicide barriers. Gordon Clark, The Province. July 5, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
Prepared by: Robert Matas, Vancouver City Planning Commission Chronology Committee
Revised: March 28, 2018