Pedestrians and cyclists will have another way of accessing New Westminster’s waterfront in the fall.
The City of New Westminster, in partnership with Bosa Developments, recently started construction of a fully accessible overpass at Sixth Street, which will include both stairs and an accessible ramp for pedestrians and cyclists to get to and from Westminster Pier Park.
“Essentially how it will work is those wanting to use the overpass, similar to the one on Fourth Street, will actually walk on through the pedestrian way onto the parkade. The overpass is going to connect to the parkade at Sixth Street. This crossing is actually going to have a ramp down. It will have quite a long structure to be able to have an accessible ramp that will connect down to the park,” said Mayor Jonathan Cote. “If you are in the park these days, you will see the area that is going to be under construction to allow for that ramp to be put in place.”
According to a staff report to council, Bosa Development has secured a contractor, with construction of the overpass to begin in mid-April and be complete in the fall. The report states the overpass structure that extends over the rail tracks will be assembled off-site and will be delivered as a complete unit. It will be installed over the rail tracks using a mobile crane.
Construction is expected to take about seven months.
Westminster Pier Park will remain open while the overpass is being built, but the children’s playground that’s closest to River Market is now closed. Once construction of the overpass is complete, the city will build a new adventure playground at that same location.
Because the ramp will land in the space where the playground has been located, Cote said a new playground will be built.
“It will definitely have a bit of a different feel, but I know our parks and rec department is making sure we actually have a really interesting and engaging public space area,” he said. “One of the complaints we have had in Pier Park has been the lack of shade, so we are hoping to use some of the ramp structure to provide some new, different shade opportunities there.”
Bosa Developments, which is building the Pier West development on the property to the west of Westminster Pier Park, is taking the lead on the overpass construction project.
“This is a commitment from the Bosa project to build this,” Cote said. “My understanding is they are the ones that are going to be leading the construction process, but the city is going to be very involved because we certainly have a strong interest in the project and how it’s being designed.”
The playground, however, is a city project.
According to Cote, Bosa’s commitment was to build an overpass and an elevator, but the city decided it wanted a ramp because it wanted to increase accessibility options into the Westminster Pier Park. People can also access the park via an elevator and stairs located at the Fourth Street end of the parkade.
“We have certainly had our maintenance challenges with the existing elevator, so we wanted to diversify the connections there,” he said. “That necessitated the ramp structure taking up a lot more space than an elevator would there. The city is responsible for rehabbing the space that the ramp is now going to be connecting with.”
The Pier West project at 660 Quayside Dr. will include 53- and 43-storey residential towers, a three-storey commercial building with child-care and retail space, an extension to Westminster Pier Park, a public plaza, surface and underground parking and about two acres of park.