Traffic calming and new speed limits coming to Prior/Venables Street
Vancouver City Council voted yesterday in favour of a series of measures to address long-standing traffic safety concerns along Prior/Venables Street, currently a key thoroughfare passing through Strathcona and False Creek Flats.
Council directed staff to improve walkability, reduce vehicle speeds, and carry out safety and traffic calming along Prior/Venables, and its surrounding street network. Once implemented, the measures will effectively downgrade the street from an east-west arterial route to a collector street.
Improving the safety of the rail line
Council also voted to improve the safety of the rail line between False Creek Flats and Strathcona with a new underpass along Prior/Venables at no cost to the city. The City will approach partners such as the railways and the Port and, once completed, the new underpass will provide a reliable grade-separated connection for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, trucks, and transit.
As part of its decision, Council directed staff to increase permanent park space for Strathcona Park should the underpass affect the park’s boundaries. They also voted in favour of putting in place a 30km/h speed limit along the park.
An underpass on Prior/Venables Street is preferred over an overpass because it is more accessible for people walking and cycling, and would include an all-ages-and-abilities route for the Adanac Bikeway.
The underpass would discourage speeding in the neighbourhood and creates opportunities to improve the walking and cycling connections to Strathcona Park.
Five years of technical study and engagement
Council’s decision follows more than five years of technical study and engagement with the community and stakeholders to identify and evaluate alternate arterial routes to replace Prior/Venables Street. The alternate routes were explored extensively during the False Creek Flats Area Planning process. Most recently, a 42-member Community Panel played an important role in assessing nine alternate route options and guiding City staff’s final evaluation leading up to yesterday’s report to Council.
Staff could not recommend the Community Panel’s preferred route option of the National-Charles overpass, which is estimated to cost over $400 million. An underpass on Prior/Venables would cost $125 million, and is supported by potential funding partners.