Pedestrians and cyclists will soon have a new way to access New Westminster’s waterfront.
When the new Sixth Street overpass opens, pedestrians and cyclists will be able to access Westminster Pier Park from a 140-metre-long accessible ramp. The overpass and ramp begin on the Front Street parkade and take parkgoers across the railway tracks and into the waterfront park.
“The Bosa team is working to open the Sixth Street overpass and ramp to the public soon,” said Jim Lowrie, the city’s director of engineering. “The team anticipates a soft opening in late July/ early August; the exact opening date has not yet been determined.”
Visitors to Westminster Pier Park currently have two ways to get into the park – a staircase and elevator at Fourth Street, and a grade-level pathway through the construction site.
“Once the overpass and ramp are open, the pathway through the Pier West construction site (between the Fraser River Discovery Centre and Westminster Pier Park) will be closed, and wayfinding signage will be installed to direct pedestrians and cyclists to/from the new Sixth Overpass,” Lowrie said. “The detour from the riverfront will include an accessible route along Columbia Street.”
Completion of the Sixth Street overpass is taking a bit longer than the city had originally anticipated.
“Due to shipping delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be elements that are incomplete for the soft opening,” Lowrie said. “For example, temporary lighting along the ramp and overpass will be in place until the permanent fixtures arrive. In addition, the central and eastern staircases will not be ready for public use.”
Bosa Development is constructing the overpass as part of its development agreement for the Pier West project, which is being built on the site next to Pier Park.
“Bosa Development is working with the City of New Westminster on the final details to open the fully accessible pedestrian and cyclist overpass and ramp to Westminster Pier Park,” said Dan Diebolt, Bosa Development’s vice-president of development, in a statement to the Record. “We also look forward to delivering additional public amenities along the waterfront on about two acres of the site, including a park, plaza and pedestrian connection between Westminster Pier Park and River Market.”
The City of New Westminster will be building a new play area beneath the overpass in Westminster Pier Park.
“The city’s contractor will begin construction on the central play area in mid-August, with completion anticipated in late fall/early winter,” Lowrie said. “The ramp and overpass will remain open to the public as the unfinished elements are completed and throughout construction of the play area below.”
Most complicated construction project in Metro Vancouver
Pier West, now under construction at 660 Quayside Dr., will include 53- and 43-storey residential towers, a three-storey commercial building with a 40-space child-care facility and retail space, an extension to Westminster Pier Park, a public plaza and esplanade, surface and underground parking and about two acres of park.
According to Bosa Development, people should start to see work on the Pier West towers begin by the end of the year. Current onsite work includes load testing, as protocols for constructing buildings require crews to do load-bearing tests to ensure the right construction materials and methods are used so a structure can bear maximum weight.
“Bosa Development is excited to be part of New Westminster’s urban renewal,” Diebolt said. “While we have done dozens of large projects, with Pier West we join an exclusive list of companies who have tackled projects on unique and complicated sites, and arguably, this is the most complex project underway in Metro Vancouver. We are building in a river; this is a site where rail, cars, bikes and pedestrians intersect; and the project requires the coordination of several government and private entities. Because the site is so unique, there is no ‘cookie cutter’ construction approach. Various aspects of construction are well underway.”
Like businesses around the world, Diebolt said Bosa Development has been impacted by COVID-19.
“Many construction projects in B.C. were paused until the provincial government deemed construction an essential service, after which we took the necessary steps to implement COVID-19 safety protocols set out by government and public health officials,” he said. “These protocols included unprecedented new safety measures for which there has never been a playbook, so it took time to learn, implement and train crews accordingly.”
Construction updates for Pier West are being posted at www.660quaysidedr.com.