New plans for North Vancouver's Low Level Road
March has arrived and, as promised, Port Metro Vancouver has released some much-anticipated information regarding the potential overhaul of the Low Level Road.
At the first in a series of three open houses and workshops scheduled for this month — future events will be held March 7, 8 and 24 — port and City of North Vancouver staff were on hand at Ridegway elementary school on Saturday to discuss new details of the large-scale project.
Among the plans released (a full text of the port's new designs can be found here, under the "Consultation Discussion Guide — March 2012" menu option), two topics emerged as key points of interest for the residents in attendance: new connections for the junction at Esplanade Avenue and the Low Level Road, and the height of the road near St. Davids Avenue.
In the area of Esplanade and the Low Level Road, PMV have proposed three options. The first scheme includes a new signalled intersection at St. Andrews Avenue, with a new two-lane road to the north offering access to area businesses. The Spirit Trail crossing would be located at the traffic signal.
The second option also offers a signalled intersection at St. Andrews Avenue and a new signalled pedestrian crossing close to St. Georges Avenue. In this option, local business will have only a one-way road, with traffic travelling east to west, for access. Crossing for the Spirit Trail would be at St. Georges Avenue. Neither of these designs require a significant raising of the road in that area.
The third plan, again, proposes a new intersection at St. Andrews Avenue and a one-way access road for businesses. At St. Patricks Avenue, however, another intersection would be created, raising the current Low Level Road almost eight metres to the height of St. Patricks. The Spirit Trail crossing would be located at St. Andrews.
Each of these scenarios incorporates a noise wall placed in between the road and the community, with some landscaping to the north of the wall. PMV staff are asking residents whether or not they want a sidewalk on the southern end of the Low Level Road, closest to the port lands. If not, then the width of the landscaping beside the noise wall can be increased by about three metres.
As for the height of the road adjacent St. Davids Avenue, PMV drawings illustrate a 14-metre jump. Those plans caught the ire of residents at the session who have long expressed their opposition to a road encroaching on their community.
"I feel, and the neighbouhood feels, that we're still talking about the same issues as last year," said Binkley, a resident of East First Street.
Port staff maintained the height of the road in this area was to deal with slope stability issues as the steepest part of the bluff is just to the west near Moodyville Park.
An environmental assessment, in particular data on the effects a raised road would have on air quality, was also top of mind for many of those in attendance. That information, however, is still being processed by PMV and wasn't available at the meeting.
"The fundamental reason the project is being done is to increase port operations," said Moodyville resident Mike Wise.
"And we've asked for an air impact study. We need to know that impact for the foreseeable future."
Once the March sessions are completed, PMV staff will be taking feedback gleaned from residents and drafting another design. That plan will be the subject of another meeting hosted by the City of North Vancouver in the spring. A decision from city council is being targeted by the port for either May or June. If approved, PMV staff will then begin working on a traffic management plan.
Dennis Bickel, the port’s senior manager of Gateway competitiveness, said construction of a new Low Level Road could begin as early as this fall and last about 18 months.