Myths about the Viaducts #1: traffic will get worse, right? Actually, it will improve, overall

Early coverage and social media commentary on the proposal to remove and replace the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts has been plagued by a few key pieces of information. Here, as a public service, real facts on four key myths about the Viaducts proposal.

Myth Number 1. Traffic will get worse.

Highway driving just blocks from downtown: the GV today.

Highway driving just blocks from downtown: the Viaducts today. The replacement system will have equal capacity, but better connectivity.

Actually, no. All the studies show traffic should improve, given that the new road system will have 100 percent of the road capacity of the Viaducts but have superior connections to nearby neighbourhoods.

Residents of Strathcona have been pressing the city for many years to downgrade Prior St. as part of the Viaduct proposal. Since 2013, the city has taken a number of steps to address concerns, including allowing more on-street parking and new pedestrian activated signals along Prior.

But it’s important to recognize that these issues would not have been discussed were it not for proposal to take down the Viaducts. In fact, a detailed traffic analysis done by city staff over the past two years shows that Prior St. is expected to have 10% less traffic with the Viaducts taken down – which is before any other possible improvements such as a new connection along Malkin Ave. Every study done by staff during the past four years has shown that Prior St. stands to benefit with less traffic with the viaducts removed and a new two-way street along Pacific.

For all the focus on traffic and the viaducts, it’s important to remember that the viaducts carry just six percent of vehicle traffic into downtown, and they currently carry half the vehicle traffic they were designed for. The new road network at grade will be able to handle all of the current traffic.

Diversion of Prior St. traffic to Malkin Ave. will trigger problems for the warehouses in that stretch. This is an issue that must be resolved through the East False Creek Flats planning process now under way, as well as through remedial measures in the near term.