$4.3 million upgrades to Stanley Park Causeway begin Sunday

Construction starts on the Stanley Park Causeway Sunday, more than two years after a cyclist died on the thoroughfare.

At a cost of $4.37 million, the improvements target the safety of cyclists and pedestrians and will include wider sidewalks, signage and fencing on both sides of the 2.2-kilometre, three-lane causeway.

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In May 2013, cyclist Antonina Skoczylas, 61, died instantly when she came off the narrow sidewalk and was struck by a public bus. In March of this year, her husband and son expanded a lawsuit and claimed negligence on the part of the ministry of transportation, the bus driver and company, and two pedestrians, one unnamed, who were on the sidewalk at the time.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year, according to the provincial ministry of transportation.

Also in March, the Vancouver Park Board formally adopted a plan to introduce designated, protected bike lanes and expand walkways. As many as 60 trees will be cut down.

"Safety is a top priority and this vital project will provide a much wider walking and cycling route along the busy Stanley Park Causeway," said minister Todd Stone in a prepared statement. "In addition, walking and cycling promotes health and fitness through increased physical activity and we'd like to see better shared use of these sidewalks through this major traffic corridor."

During construction on weekdays, people walking and riding bikes can access detours along Hanson Trail and Pipeline Drive between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The ministry advises people to check Twitter at @DriveBC_LM or @DriveBC for updates.

Vehicle traffic will not be affected during weekdays. Overnight, however, motorists can expect single-lane closures between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. during the week. On weekends, those closures will run from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.

During those closures, one vehicle lane will remain open in each direction.

On Sept. 16, road users will see ministry staff along with HUB members and volunteers along the causeway to help navigate detours as the construction begins.

HUB executive director Erin O'Melinn said new infrastructure will improve the daily commute and any travel along Highway 99 between Vancouver and the North Shore.

"The ministry's improvements to the Stanley Park Causeway will provide a safer and more comfortable cycling and walking route for the thousands of people who use it each day, and will encourage many more to use active transportation along this important connector," said O'Melinn in a news release issued Thursday.

MRC Total Build of Langley was selected to undertake the construction.  

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