Many Strathcona residents support the demolition of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts on the condition the city reduces traffic on Prior Street.
"They've come up with this great viaduct removal plan, but everything just falls shy of Gore Street and there's no consideration beyond that," said community organizer Pete Fry. "All the Eastern Core Strategies are vague promises that don't offer the concrete reassurance we need. We need some reassurance from the city that we're not going to be bearing the brunt of the traffic impact of this viaduct removal scheme."
The concept presented at recent open houses sees combined Expo and Pacific boulevards on the north side of the SkyTrain line connected to Prior/Venables for cars and delivery trucks travelling east and west to and from downtown.
Fry said busy Prior already keeps residents from Strathcona Park. Fry's friend was struck while crossing Prior on foot two years ago and suffered permanent brain damage and Fry has seen two dogs hit by cars.
Residents between Prior and Union are also feeling squeezed by a growing number of cyclists on Union. Fry said one of his neighbours had her teeth knocked out when she collided, on foot, with a cyclist.
Jerry Dobrovolny, the city's director of transportation, says the current concept shouldn't see traffic worsen on Prior. "The worst case scenario in terms of our modelling had Prior staying about the same and more likely less," he said.
Two traffic signals on the new, expanded Pacific Boulevard would make that route slower and less attractive to commuters, according to Dobrovolny.
The city expects with the viaducts gone some drivers would stop travelling in that corner of downtown, others will shift to First Avenue, Second Avenue and Great Northern Way, some would use 12th Avenue and others would move to Hastings and Powell, in the worst case scenario. Dobrovolny noted the city is seeing fewer vehicle trips each year.
"We would not support a plan that added more vehicles onto Prior/Venables," Dobrovolny said. "Our long-range plan is to reduce the number of vehicles significantly on Prior/Venables to allow for a greenway to be looked at on Venables and to redirect the traffic that does need to access the downtown from that access of the city onto a new Malkin [Avenue]."
The city wants to connect Malkin Avenue to Clark Drive with an overpass using federal infrastructure money.
Residents have suggested redirecting delivery trucks onto Malkin then Raymur Avenue to Venables in the nearer future. Dobrovolny said such measures could be undertaken "in phased work."
Residents have organized a meeting with Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs and city staff in Strathcona, where no open houses for the current concept occurred, for July 7. Residents are organizing a peaceful community action event to be held shortly before that date.
Dobrovolny said the city would try to meet with community members before July 7. City council is expected to vote on the concept of removing the viaducts, July 24 or 25.
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