New Westminster takes a stance on Q2Q pedestrian crossing

The City of New Westminster has determined that a bascule bridge is the best bet for a crossing from Queensborough to the Quay.

With the initial technical work complete for the Q2Q pedestrian/bicycle bridge, a staff report states the focus will now be on completing a memorandum of understanding with Southern Railway for the construction and operation of a bascule (draw) bridge, finalizing a design in consultation with Southern Railway and marine carriers, and fundraising to address the funding gap.

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“I think that is probably one of the most exciting projects our city is moving forward with,” said Mayor Jonathan Cote. “I think it is such an important piece of infrastructure. It’s connecting neighbourhoods. From a recreational point of view, I think it changes the dynamics of the river, but it also has an important transportation component. If you live in Port Royal now, you are somewhat isolated. But if you put in a pedestrian bridge, suddenly access to the bus routes, SkyTrain, walking to the River Market, it starts to open up those types of opportunities.

While it may not be feasible for everyone, Cote believes there will be Queensborough residents who want to walk to the Quay.

“It’s probably going to be one of the more pleasant walks there is,” he said.

Several years ago, the city negotiated casino funds for a number of projects in the downtown and Queensborough neighbourhoods, including a pedestrian crossing between the Quayside and Queensborough neighbourhoods. In 2013, Southern Railway of B.C approached the city about a low-level crossing and proposed two options, one that would be connected to the existing rail bridge and another that would be a separate bascule or draw bridge.

According to a staff report, the preferred option is the bascule bridge, which is estimated to cost $10.5 million. While this is more than the $6.2 million available from casino funds, the city believes the gap could be addressed through fundraising, grants or a new capital program.

“Initial survey work and drawings for regulatory approvals have been completed and concepts have been developed for connecting the bridge with local and regional bicycles, pedestrian and greenway networks on both sides of the river,” stated the report. “It has also been confirmed that the bridge would be capable of supporting police car or ambulance, providing an alternative access route to Royal Columbian Hospital in the event of a blockage of the Queensborough Bridge."

Coun. Patrick Johnstone said the proposed design is the one that will have the least amount of visual impact and should not impact the existing children’s “submarine” park. While there are a lot of details to be addressed when building over a navigable waterway, he’s confident it will happen.

“I think that is one of the most exciting projects our city is moving forward with,” said Mayor Jonathan Cote. “I think it’s such an important piece of infrastructure. It’s connecting neighbourhoods. From a recreational point of view, I think it changes the dynamics of the river. I also think it has an important transportation component.”

While Port Royal residents are “somewhat isolated” at this time, Cote said new opportunities open up with the provision of a pedestrian bridge, as they’ll have access to the bus routes, SkyTrain and River Market.

“It’s probably going to be one of the more pleasant walks there is,” he said. “If that was my trip to the grocery store, I’d probably go for that.”

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