We’re down to the last loop on the Granville Street Bridge.
Now that a City report is recommending the reconfiguration of both loops at the north end of the bridge, only the southwest loop (lower left above) will remain.
Opened in 1954 at the height of the post-war infrastructure boom, the Granville Bridge was vastly overscaled for its purpose. This high-elevation eight-lane structure would never reach its design capacity unless the feeder roads to it were likewise enlarged.
But back then, they presumed that the city would be rescaled for the car, so they built freeway-style cloverleafs at both ends.
In 1997, the Pacific Press building, a bland modernist box squatting on the block just above the southeast loop, was acquired with the intent to build what is now the Portico condo complex. The City took the benefit moneys to develop an adjacent park, requiring the removal of the loop. Vehicles now have to make two right turns to get on to the bridge from Fourth Avenue.
The landscape architects retained the memory of the curving on-ramp in their design of a pathway between the tennis courts and water feature.
The changes at the north end will be even more dramatic. Here’s the current situation:
When the loops are removed, the blocks will be subdivided, squared up, and sold as development sites. To eventually look like this:
Several new streets will be created:
Tilly Rolston, after whom the streets are named, was the first woman cabinet minister in British Columbia, given the Education portfolio by Premier W.A.C. Bennett.
Most of the land is currently under asphalt, mainly a parking lot for a taxi company.
The city-owned Continental currently serves as social housing, to be replaced as part of the redevelopment.
It’s not quite clear how pedestrian linkages and bikeways will work to connect Granville Street to False Creek – but the changes will be far superior to the near-impenetrable barrier there now.
Another sign that we are in a post-Motordom city, reversing the insensitivities of the era when the car was king and the pedestrian an interloper.