We should take a serious look at the idea of creating a new bicycle-friendly greenway before putting the wrecking ball to the Port Mann Bridge.
The Kettle Valley trestle bridge was saved from demolition in the 1980s and it is now enjoyed by pedestrians and cyclists. Thousands use this abandoned railway bridge turned into a cycling greenway.
The B.C. government even funded the re-construction of this trestle bridge after the 2003 Okanagan fires. B.C. also helped save abandoned bridges in Cowichan Valley and Slocan. Why not save the old Port Mann Bridge, which is much closer to 2.5-million B. C. residents?
The Victoria Bridge in Saskatoon is used by over a million cyclists and pedestrians each year. Even though engineers said the structure could no longer handle 10,000 vehicles per day, it will last for decades as a pedestrian bridge. Saskatoon saved millions in demolition costs.
Today, the Victoria Bridge is on the list of Saskatoon's tourist attractions: www.saskatoonkiosk.ca/saskatoon-tour/Victoria-Bridge. php.
The New York High Line is one of the most pedestrian eco-friendly areas in New York. In the 1930s the bridge carried freight lines over an industrial area; today it is a greenway and pedestrian walkway. Search for New York High Line to see photos of this amazing feature.
The Paris Promenade Plantee, a five-kilometre linear park built on a former elevated railway track, was the inspiration for the New York High Line.
The New York and Paris greenways are in high density areas; the Port Mann structure however, with thoughtful design for approaches, will give thousands of residents an opportunity to view the river and walk and cycle rather than drive and pollute.
I think it is worthwhile to reconsider the destiny of our Port Mann Bridge. Rather than increasing our concrete footprint on this planet, why not turn a major concrete bridge into a cycling and pedestrian greenway across the Fraser River?
Yvonne Harris Former Regional Planner in B.C. and the Yukon Port Moody
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