NPA City Council candidate Michael Geller is proposing a public-private partnership as an alternative to the $63-million plan to solve traffic congestion on Burrard Bridge.
The plan involves modeling two bridge projects in Winnipeg and Slovakia, where pedestrian bridges were built alongside existing bridges with a restaurant to help pay for costs.
Geller said he is concerned about the cost, not the idea of upgrading Burrard Bridge. “It’s not ridiculous to improve pedestrians’ and cyclists’ safety. It’s ridiculous to spend 63 millions doing it.”
“I think the NPA council would want to look at, are there better solutions now that we know the price,” Geller said. “I think at this point you have to stop and say, is there a better way doing it? How much is it to cost to build another bridge?”
His comments follow an all-candidates debate last night at Vancouver Public Library in which three council candidates were asked for their plans to improve the Burrard Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.
Vision Vancouver candidate, Geoff Meggs, proposed that his party would substitute a vehicle lane for a cycling and have three outgoing lanes in the rush hour direction. This would leave two lanes for traffic moving in the opposite direction. According to Meggs, this option could help the City save tens of millions of dollars.
COPE candidate, Ellen Woodsworth, supported the plans that Meggs articulated. “COPE, Vision, and Green have reached a decision to support Gregor Robertson for Mayor and to work together to defeat the NPA, and this is one of the examples why we wanted to beat the NPA.”
In addition, Woodsworth called out for better signage and reflectors on the street in order to keep cyclists safe.
Many cyclists get injured while crossing Burrad Bridge. A local biker, Sarah-Jane Lousina, who suffered a fractured skull in a bridge crash last month, told The Province she fears he next victim could be one of her friends, as she is part of a group of outdoors-minded people. “I can’t stand by when I know my friends’ lives are at risk.”
There is currently no mention of Burrard Bridge upgrade in NPA’s platform.
In response to what NPA’s official stance on this issue was, Geller said he is yet to find out. However, he said he would bring up this “crazy idea” to NPA’s Vancouver mayor candidate, Peter Ladner, and the City of Vancouver staff.
“My whole life, I have been trying to think of different ways of doing things.” Geller said. “Who knows? Maybe it would cost less to build a whole new bridge with a restaurant in the middle and it could be a better, safer solution.”