This is another question that has bothered me since some of the new designs came online: is this project all about the bridge (as Mayor Fortin’s fear-mongering around seismic vulnerability would suggest), or is it more about building new roads?
Over on Vibrant Victoria’s Design and technical discussion, forumer G-Man recently noted: “Wow check out the new ‘S’ curve after coming off the bridge…” He was referring to a new “S” curve on the bridge’s East side – as well as alluding to the irony of same, given that some people had fretted over the alleged road hazard that an existing “S” curve on the bridge’s West side poses. The West side’s “S” curve was supposed to be eliminated in the new design (even though the Vic West Community Association is in favor of keeping it: it forces drivers to slow down and therefore has a traffic-calming effect).
The rendering G-Man pointed to, which shows what looks like a new “S” curve on the East, is this one:
It isn’t really a new “S” curve, but it sure is a whole lot of new, “rationalized” road-bed for cars. In fact, while it could be a trick of perspective, this rendering suggests that there’s more new road to this project than there is new bridge.
That suspicion is confirmed if you click through to Mat’s earlier post on the 9/24 council meeting where officials chose the rolling bascule as their winner, and view his video (the second one: Design Choice Part 2), which shows slides from Engineering’s presentation. In the video, you’ll find additional images (which I can’t find on the city’s website) that show just how strongly road configuration and realignment dominate the project. Yet it’s a project that’s being sold to us (especially now) under the rubric of fear: the bridge is (suddenly) a menace to life and limb, etc. etc.
The clearly visible road emphasis, however, calls into question the mantra that this project focuses on improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. Not that it would not improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists at all, but the slides show that it hardly seems to be the primary focus. Instead, the main focus appears to be on automobile traffic.
When new roads (including improvements and rationalizations) are plunked into the heart of an area that has developed over time, they rip apart the existing, more fine-grained, fabric that already exists. New highway-like roads, which clearly signal to pedestrians that they are not welcome within 10 feet of either side of them, are no solution for a site at the heart of a downtown that’s supposed to be pedestrian-friendly.
We can achieve better access for cyclists and pedestrians (as well as improved crossings on the actual bridge) without replacing what lies on either side of the bridge with wide new roads for cars.Tweet