Paul has some neat ideas for replacing the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts. I do, however, have some concerns.
How are the roads in downtown above are going to connect to the land below? If you plan to keep a connection for Georgia and Dunsmuir, then you’ll need some sort of superstructure to guide the roads between the two elevations. The area is now well built-up with condos above a ginormous Costco. GM Place and BC Place don’t have much room between them. And, of course, there’s the SkyTrain guideway and Stadium Station to work around. So connecting Georgia to Pacific and Dunsmuir to Expo may not be as easy as it looks on the map.
I like Paul’s idea of funding the downtown streetcar with the funds from the sale of the lands. However, we are taking capacity away from commuters who come in from East Vancouver and beyond. We’re not actually replacing the driving capacity with transit capacity for the people driving in. Sure, we could force them onto the Expo Line, but that’s already at capacity in the morning rush hour with everyone’s free newspapers in each other’s face. Perhaps we should find better alternatives for the drivers most affected by the demolition of the viaducts before taking away the roadspace. The streetcar, as proposed, only really services Downtown and Southeast False Creek. There’s no benefit to the ones who lose their road into downtown. They’ll only clog up more roadspace on other roads into downtown.
Also, I’ve heard that in some places with former bridges and elevated highways, they turn them into public spaces. The Paris Plage would be one example where the Pompidou Expressway is converted into a public space in the summer. We could elevated community box gardens on the structure. Okay, not the most practical of reasons to keep the viaducts, but just throwing out the idea there.
Otherwise, Paul’s idea definitely could grow some legs and starting a-running. Given today’s economic climate, it might be hard to make much money off the site, but when things improve, there can definitely be some possibilities.