That old Burrard Bridge is showing its 80 years these days
GlobalTV's Rumina Daya was on the hunt for answers to critical questions about one of Vancouver's most prominent, and aging pieces of infrastructure – the Burrard Bridge. While she found signs of decay in the form of chunks of concrete lying on the ground below the bridge, she didn't get very reassuring answers from the City of Vancouver as to what they're doing to address these safety concerns.
The video story above is alarming enough. The original news about this potential problem, and its link to another controversial project, was put together by none other than Alex G. Tsakumis. Alex's blog asks questions about whether the additional weight of several hundred standing concrete barriers put in place – which he calculates at about a total of 1.7 million pounds – is quickening the decay and increasing the safety concerns.
Tsakumis spoke with a structural engineer on City staff, Mr. Dane Dolman:
AGT: Would you say, then, that you’ve seen an increase of problems since the Burrard Bridge Bike Trial?
DD: Um, I don’t know if I would say that for sure, but I certainly couldn’t discount it. The barriers are a very heavy load, but the bridge was designed and upgraded to withstand constant pressure from loads exceeding what the bridge is currently carrying, although I cannot rule out that there has been an accelerated deterioration because of it (the bike trial). I’m now going to look into that. If what you’re hearing from staff is true, we might have a real problem. I had a conversation before the bike trial with quite a few people around here.
AGT: Are you telling me that you actually pointed out to the city that the load, due to the weight of the barriers, might create a problem and they ignored you?
DD: (Laughs) I just can’t divulge my internal communications, I’m sorry, that’s all. I’m sure you can appreciate that.
While it is clear that Mr. Dolman is caught off guard by the line of questioning, and we should not base any judgment upon one conversation, the matter of whether the Burrard Bridge repairs should be a priority for City Hall is hardly vague at all. Pieces are dropping off the bottom of the bridge regularly, and it took the inquiries of someone with a blog to get the City to admit that maybe some signage warning passers-by would be a prudent idea.
My colleague Daniel Fontaine says that he was receiving reports from Engineering staff about the bridge as far back as 2007. The proposed solution was going to cost the City just over $60 million, and it would have involved extensive repairs of the bridge deck and a new widened sidewalk on each side to permit both pedestrian and cycling lanes.
Guess who blasted it as a huge waste of money – you guessed it, our friends from Vision Vancouver. In fact, they attacked the NPA as though the $60 million was only for the bike lanes, when they knew that the work needed to get underway. Instead, we're stuck with Gregor Robertson's bike lane trial which they consider to be their greatest success in office.
By the time Vision finally presents its final report on the bike lane (a decision based upon a safety study they refused to release to the public, by the way) this summer, it will be months before this government gets moving on Burrard Bridge repairs that should have been done earlier. Heather Deal's knee jerk response is to enter the Blame the NPA message box, and today was no different.
The Bridge is crumbling, therefore blame the NPA. If Heather stubs her toe, does she think it's because Sam Sullivan made her do it? Anyway, folks, you get the picture. For Vision Vancouver decaying infrastructure isn't as sexy as photo ops with Richard Branson, or bragging about putting rotting lettuce in with your garden waste, so it's not high on their list of priorities.
- post by Mike