10/28/2015 02:17 EDT | Updated 10/28/2016 05:12 EDT

Vancouver Viaduct Demolition Could Begin In 2017

Mayor Gregor Robertson calls the removal a "once-in-a-generation building opportunity."

Ted's photos - Returns early December/Flickr
View of the Georgia, Dunsmuir and Skytrain viaducts seen from Columbia Street in downtown Vancouver. The split pieces are the east end legs that drop to grade - one at Main Street and the other at Gore Avenue.Debate rages at present about whether to tear the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts down. Good or bad idea depends on ones vested interest.The first Georgia Street Viaduct was built between 1913 and 1915. The narrow structure included streetcar tracks that were never used. At one point, every second lamppost was removed to reduce weight. It was replaced in 1972 by the current viaduct, which is structurally separated and contains three lanes for each direction of traffic.The Georgia Viaduct was envisioned in the early 1970s as forming part of an extensive freeway system for Vancouver. However, communities were opposed to the idea of demolishing structures to build the freeway system and the plan was scrapped. The freeways would have required demolishing buildings in neighborhoods including Strathcona, the Downtown Eastside and Chinatown. A predominantly African community called Hogan's Alley was bulldozed in building the viaduct.In 1985 a third viaduct was added for SkyTrain.City planning and engineering staff have worked with urban designers, and transportation and structural engineering consultants to reimagine the viaducts land. The concept proposes to:-Remove the viaducts structures. -Reconfigure the road network at ground level.-Allow for more park land and mixed-use development.-Maintain key transportation routes to and from downtown for people and goodsThe Viaducts today:As the lone piece of freeway infrastructure surrounded by an urban street network, the viaducts will never operate to their designed capacity. With capacity to carry upwards of 1,800 vehicles per lane per hour, the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts carry only 750 vehicles per lane per hour during their busiest hours: less than half of their designed capacity. ..Permission to use photo..28 April 2015.The Georgia StraightSubject:Split Ends Photo hi Ted, We regularly ask photographers who post in our GS Flickr group if they would send us a high res copy of their photo to publish on our table of contents page. We pay $100 for one time use, along with a photo credit. If this is something you are interested in please send me a file with your name address, and location of the photo (Street Name). We mail out cheques every couple of weeks, thanks,

VANCOUVER — Councillors in Vancouver have narrowly approved removal of two elevated roadways moving traffic in and out of the city's downtown core.

In a 5-4 vote, councillors approved plans to demolish the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, replacing them with a ramp to Georgia Street and a two-way, six lane Pacific Boulevard.

A release from council estimates construction could start in late 2017, and be complete by 2020, but also notes detailed planning is still needed.

Mayor Gregor Robertson says demolishing the viaducts will sidestep $65 million in seismic upgrades, reconnect several downtown and east side neighbourhoods, create new affordable housing opportunities and clear space for a five hectare park.

He calls the removal a "once-in-a-generation building opportunity."

City staff have 18 months or less to update council on any progress.

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