Update (Mar. 18, 2021)
The Prior Street Working group met with senior members of the City Engineering, Transportation and Park planning departments on March 18. Here’s what we learned:
Calming Prior project
Work so far to calm traffic on Prior has made a modest impact on reducing speed and volume. Progress has been hampered by BC Hydro’s extended street work. Additional improvements will happen in the near future, including temporary curb bulges at Dunlevy and Heatley, painting both crosswalks turquoise on Prior at Hawks and restoring speed reader boards.
One clearly successful change has been restricting traffic to a single lane, which prevents cars from accelerating to pass in the right lane. In the few sections where there are still double lanes (like between Raymur and Campbell), the City is committed to finding ways to close them. Engineering has decided to extend the pilot project until late 2021 or early 2022 and then to make permanent any changes that are effective in calming traffic.
Removing the viaducts is on hold waiting for funding from Concord-Pacific, which has yet to even submit re-zoning plans for that area. The soonest it will happen is 2027. As part of phase 1 of the hospital plan, Gore will be extended to connect to the new hospital site. Dunlevy will be extended to connect to a new street that runs off of Malkin. See attached map.
Hospital construction is expected to begin in earnest in July 2021 and continue until 2026. Plans for routing truck traffic to and from the site are currently being developed. We made clear we want it kept off Prior St.
Rail line and underpass
The twinning of the Burrard Inlet Rail Line has been deferred by CN Rail, possibly to coordinate with the construction of the underpass at Venables. The Centerm Port expansion is on schedule to be completed by 2022 and will likely result in increased rail traffic.
The City will be launching a pilot project this Spring to explore options for closing the at-grade crossings at Cordova and Raymur to eliminate the frequent crossing alarm bells that have created a noise nuisance for nearby residents. A final design is expected by Fall 2021, with construction to be completed by Winter 2022.
There are no immediate plans to close the at-grade crossing at Parker, as it is a critical truck access point for Produce Row and potentially the hospital site.
The underpass design is on hold, pending funding applications and the hiring of an outside design consultant. The working assumptions are that it will only have one active lane in each direction and will not take away a significant chunk of the northeast section of Strathcona Park. During the months it will take to construct it, Prior will be closed and no detours through residential streets will be put in place. The ballpark estimate for construction is 2026.
The plan for closing Hawks is still being discussed. It’s likely Hawks will remain open during construction of the hospital and construction of the underpass, but the long-term plan is to close it and integrate it into the Park. We made it very clear that using Hawks for truck access is a huge problem for safe access to the park, smooth traffic flow and air pollution.