Tunnel and Bridge Designs and Cycling

George Massey Tunnel, Phase 2 Consultation

2013-03-21

Forewords

For the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project consultation, the British Columbia Cycling Coalition comments reflect the Coalition’s perspective of Cycling for Transportation and cycling as an alternative mode of transportation for motorists to consider.  The Coalition’s interests include a provincial-wide highway (right-of-way) infrastructure and network for people of all cycling skills and preferences to cycle in any part of British Columbia; a provincial network for cycling touring, which contributes to the local economies where cyclists pass through; and support for capacity within the province for Combined Mobility of transit and cycling (and public transportation), usually where cycling is a feeder to transit.

Comments

General Comment

It appears too early to focus on narrowing down a number of road based alternatives when there is lack of knowledge on future use of the tunnel, including road usage, traffic patterns, BC Ferry future and impact on the local terminal, and impacts of a number of significant factors, including roads being built on traffic volumes and patterns for the future.

It may be more prudential for the province to proceed on upgrading the tunnel to the level of Scenario 1 – Maintain Existing Tunnel and then study the need for the tunnel over the next few years as other factors evolve, including the affordability of individuals to drive, now and in the future years at all income levels.

Alternatives Not Included in this Consultation

There should be an alternative that consists of Scenario 1 – Maintain existing tunnel and provide an Active Transportation option, including semi or rapid transit serving the are south of the Fraser River, including the communities along the way to the Tsawwassen ferry dock and the U.S.A. border.

Provisions for Additional Usage of the Highway Right-of-Way

On another thought, the very wide right-of-way of Highway 99 also provides opportunity for fast train trackage south to the border, which can also be used to service the communities within Metro Vancouver along the way.

Consultation Inputs that are common to Scenarios

The following comments, requirements from a cycling perspective, and suggestions apply to any option, which includes the tunnel remaining in operation.

For Scenario 1 and any Scenario that does not provide a cycling path through a tunnel, shuttling of bicycles across the South Arm of the Fraser must be improved:

  1. Any bike ferry service through the tunnel solution needs to be provided 24 hours a day with service on an “on call” basis.  With a trip passage through the tunnel of less than 10 minutes, this is quite feasible.
    1. For a bike ferry through the tunnel solution, upgrades of pick-up points and drop off points at both ends need to be included in any project, including access, waiting shelters, toilettes, location of these points that facilitate continuing cycling journeys more safely and are more appealing to less risk-taking and less confident cyclists than currently exists on the south side, especially.
  2. A water ferry crossing should be considered between Richmond and Ladner for cyclists and passengers with a frequency that would promote the use of the ferry by cyclists and pedestrians.  On-demand crossing may also be feasible for a water ferry.
  3. If a 24-hour a day bike ferry solution is not provided, then:
    1. Consideration should be undertaken for improving the TransLink bus capacity and service level for taking commuter and touring cyclists, including those with trailers.  “Bikes inside buses” is one solution used in some countries.  As the tunnel crossing by cars is not tolled, so should the crossing by transit not be tolled (fare) for cyclists.
    2. TransLink bus stops need to be enhanced for boarding of cyclists through the tunnel, especially on the south side:

i.     Bus stops on both sides of Highway 17 on the west side of Highway 99 for boarding and disembarking of cyclists.  Alternatively for the northbound direction, the bike ferry boarding area at the start of the ramp onto Hwy 99 could potentially be a bus stop, provided the crossing of Hwy 99 eastbound is dramatically improved. Alternatively, River Road could be a disembarking stop for southbound crossings.

ii.     On the north side of the tunnel, access to bus stops need to be more visible for cyclists and to motorists of cyclists on the road.

Needed intersection improvements are commented on below.

The following comments, requirements from a cycling perspective, and suggestions apply to any option, which includes a new tunnel.

In any new tunnel, either two-way bike lanes (or multi-use paths) should be designed on each side of the tunnel or one path should be included within the tunnel configuration.   The width of the paths should be designed for social cycling and for bikes with trailers and have a minimum inside clearance path width of 4.5 metres.

The paths shall be designed for cycling in darkness and inclement weather with adequate lighting at cycling speeds, and cyclists’ protection from blinding by oncoming car lights.

For exterior portions of paths, adequate lighting at cycling speeds and protection from strong crosswinds should be provided. The paths shall be designed for winter cycling with considerations for surface material, among others. Rain protection is desirable.

The design level of the paths should be to the advanced European design levels, including centre line markings.

A walking and cycling lane could be used by emergency vehicles, providing that the width of the lane is sufficient to accommodate the width of a faster moving emergency vehicle plus at least 1.5 metres for oncoming cyclists.

The following comments, requirements from a cycling perspective, and suggestions apply to any option, which includes a new bridge.

Grade – The paths should be designed for minimizing the amount of elevation gain over the bridge for cyclists.

The bridge deck should not have any slope greater than 3% desirably, 4% maximum.  If ramps are required where cyclists would ascend or descend in any option, then the slopes of the ramps shall be kept to 3% or less for accommodation seniors, children, and infrequent cyclists.  In no case, should a ramp slope be grater than 4%.  Minimizing the slope of a grade on a route will encourage more infrequent cyclists and motorists to cycling for transportation.  Perceived personal effort when cycling is a barrier to cycling.

Multi-Used Path under the General Traffic Deck option – Consideration should be given for the path to be designed below the general traffic lanes deck providing protection for cyclists and pedestrians from air pollution, noise pollution, rain, wind effects of trucks and buses, blinding light effects from oncoming vehicles.   An under the deck path would permit passage to both sides of the highway at each end.  Width of the two-way path for future cycling traffic growth would be easily accommodated.  The width could be set to accommodate emergency vehicle crossing, as well.  Cycling under cover on a rainy day would be an attraction for cyclists, as it is with the bike path on the Canada Line Bridge crossing the North Arm of the Fraser River.

General Traffic Deck option – Two-way bike lanes (or multi-use paths) on each side should be designed into any new bridge.   The width of the pathways should be designed for social cycling and for bikes with trailers and have a minimum inside clearance width of 4.5 metres.

The paths shall be designed for cycling in darkness and inclement weather with adequate lighting at cycling speeds, protection from oncoming car lights, and protection from strong crosswinds.  Rain protection is desirable.  The design level of the paths should be to the advanced European design levels, including centre line markings.

The paths shall be designed for winter cycling with considerations for surface material, among others.

The following comments, requirements from a cycling perspective, and suggestions apply to any option, which involves reworking of Hwy 99 intersections at Hwy 17 or Steveston Road.

For improving the safety of cyclists and for providing conditions for drawing the less risk-taking, less cycling skilled, and less confident cyclists of all ages to cycle in the vicinity of the tunnel and intersecting roads, any intersection work must include in its scope the provision of cycling underpasses for travel in both directions of the intersecting roads.  Depth of cycling underpasses can be minimized by partially raising the intersecting roads at the intersection.

The following comments, requirements from a cycling perspective, and suggestions apply to any option, which involves improvements along Hwy 99 south of the tunnel.

It as been stated that the Highway 99 right-of-way is very wide.   As part of any Highway 99 corridor improvements, a high quality bike trail should be built from Bridgeport Road to the border at Blaine WA.  This trail should be designed for dark and poor weather cycling.  The width of the paved trail should be a minimum 4.5 metres for encouraging social cycling, in addition to commuter and transportation cycling and touring cycling.  The bike trail should be built at an elevation that would negate effects of rain and icing.  Creative, solar powered lighting should be part of the trail that functions only when cyclists pass within coverage area of light poles.  This bike trail would serve cycling touring traffic from the US border towards Downtown Vancouver, the YVR airport, Canada Line, and the ferries at Tsawwassen ferry terminal, besides connecting to communities, beach and parks along the way.

The following comments, requirements from a cycling perspective, and suggestions apply to any option, which involves dedicated transit lanes.

Transit stops for disembarking and boarding cyclists should be provided at each end of the bridge with connection to multi-use paths and any cycling network on either side of the river.

Information not made available to the consultation process that hinders the effectiveness of the consultation:

  1. Trip data – Origination to destination.  It is difficult to understand who uses the George Massey Tunnel and daily frequency of trips by user type.
  2. Traffic data – Demographics of who uses the tunnel – Car drivers (commuters, business, tourists, personal trips, etc.); Truck drivers (origin and destinations and alternatives to the tunnel, especially with the South Fraser Perimeter Road).
  3. Traffic data – traffic volumes in 2012 and forecast for the next 50 years.
  4. Urban form plan with densification objectives for this part of Metro Vancouver and the transportation needs that flow out of the plan by mode.
  5. Sustainable transportation plan that fits a liveable region with modal shift forecasts to Active Transportation – transit, cycling, walking.
  6. 1.     Draft Project Scope

Draft Project Scope and Goals

Refer to General Comments

Refer to Alternatives Not Included in this Consultation

Refer to Information not made available to the consultation process that hinders the effectiveness of the consultation

  1. 2.     Draft Project Goals

We take exceptions to government’ statements and goal for this project that congestion is bad.  As many university researchers have stated, Congestion is Good as it causes people to make proper decisions on which transportation mode to use, where to live, and so on.  The outcome of congestion allows for the province to make better transportation decisions beyond just keeping building roads as the default status.  It is more of an issue of degree of congestion beyond that level that will trigger rational mode choice selection.

Instead of reduction of congestion, reduce travel time is more of an appropriate goal, however, this goal should be expanded and replaced by a goals of:

  • Providing choice of travel modes to users of this corridor.
  • Increase use of active transportation along this corridor (primarily transit and cycling)
  • Provide faster trip time for movements of goods along this corridor.
  • Reduce use of cars and other personal vehicles to less than a 50% mode share.

As the Coalition supports Combined Mobility of transit and cycling, the goal for this project should include alignment within the highway design for rapid transit and other light rail options, including fast trains to the border.

 

Potential Crossing Scenarios

The Coalition is not expressing any preference for any of the scenarios.  The Coalition advocates for cycling to be incorporated into the final chosen scenario to a level which will appeal sufficiently to motorists for them to choose cycling or combined mobility of transit and cycling in the crossing of the Fraser Ricer and leave their cars at home.  The Coalition requests that the following comments, requirements, and suggestions to be incorporated into the final chosen scenario.

3. Scenario 1 – Maintain Existing Tunnel

Refer to comments on tunnel remaining in operation.

Refer to comments on reworking of Hwy 99 intersections at Hwy 17 or Steveston Road.

Rice Mill Road Bridge – if this bridge is maintained for the long term and rebuilt, then the bike path in the 5th Rd right-of-way should be extended over the bridge to the bike ferry stop, provided that the forecast of traffic for this road in the future has significant truck or car growth.

Deas Slough Bridge – if this bridge is rebuilt or significantly retrofitted, then a multi-use path to Deas Park should be part of the project.  The existing bike path under the bridge by the river should be significantly improved.

4. Scenario 2 – Replace Existing Tunnel with New Bridge

Refer to comments on new bridge.

Refer to comments on dedicated transit lanes.

Refer to comments on reworking of Hwy 99 intersections at Hwy 17 or Steveston Road.

Refer to comments on improvements along Hwy 99 south of the tunnel.

River Road – a cycling connection should be built to River Road and to the existing path under Deas Slough Bridge

5. Scenario 3 – Replace Existing Tunnel with New Tunnel

Refer to comments on new tunnel.

Refer to comments on dedicated transit lanes.

Refer to comments on reworking of Hwy 99 intersections at Hwy 17 or Steveston Road.

Refer to comments on improvements along Hwy 99 south of the tunnel.

Rice Mill Road Bridge – if this bridge is maintained for the long term and rebuilt, then the bike path in the 5th Rd right-of-way should be extended over the bridge to the bike ferry stop, provided that the forecast of traffic for this road in the future has significant truck or car growth.

Deas Slough Bridge – if this bridge is rebuilt or significantly retrofitted, then a multi-use path to Deas Park should be part of the project.  The existing bike path under the bridge by the bridge should be significantly improved.

6. Scenario 4 – Maintaining Existing Tunnel and Build New Crossing along Highway 99 Corridor

If new tunnel:

Refer to comments on new tunnel.

If bridge:

Refer to comments on new bridge.

Common to tunnel or bridge:

Refer to comments on dedicated transit lanes.

Refer to comments on reworking of Hwy 99 intersections at Hwy 17 or Steveston Road.

Refer to comments on improvements along Hwy 99 south of the tunnel.

Rice Mill Road Bridge – if this bridge is maintained for the long term and rebuilt, then the bike path in the 5th Rd right-of-way should be extended over the bridge to the bike ferry stop, provided that the forecast of traffic for this road in the future has significant truck or car growth.

Deas Slough Bridge – if this bridge is rebuilt or significantly retrofitted, then a multi-use path to Deas Park should be part of the project.  The existing bike path under the bridge by the river should be significantly improved.

7. Scenario 5 – Maintaining Existing Tunnel and Build New Crossing in a New Corridor

For existing tunnel:

Refer to comments on tunnel remaining in operation.

Rice Mill Road Bridge – if this bridge is maintained for the long term and rebuilt, then the bike path in the 5th Rd right-of-way should be extended over the bridge to the bike ferry stop, provided that the forecast of traffic for this road in the future has significant truck or car growth.

Deas Slough Bridge – if this bridge is rebuilt or significantly retrofitted, then a multi-use path to Deas Park should be part of the project.  The existing bike path under the bridge by the river should be significantly improved.

For new crossing, if new tunnel:

Refer to comments on new tunnel.

For new crossing, if new bridge:

Refer to comments on new bridge.

Common to existing tunnel crossing and to new crossing:

Refer to comments on dedicated transit lanes.

Refer to comments on reworking of Hwy 99 intersections at Hwy 17 or Steveston Road.

Refer to comments on improvements along Hwy 99 south of the tunnel.

Draft Evaluation Criteria

Efficient transportation for all users

Transit capability and pedestrian and cycling accessibility – Very important

Traffic congestion – of little importance.  Refer to 2. Draft Project Goals

Travel time – Refer to 2. Draft Project Goals for alternate criteria

Safety

Incidence response capability and earthquake protection – Very important

Safety – needs definition before rating.  Transit is safer than car travel, so mode is very important.

Agriculture – Very important

Environment – Very important

Jobs and Economy – Important

Social and community considerations – important

What is missing in the evaluation? Criteria for:

  • Urban form and densification, regional and local transportation mode share targets, cycling and combined mobility targets, air quality and greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Additional Information

9. What questions do you have?

Why is this not an Urban Land Form project, which generates transportation needs by mode of travel?  The way this project has been set up is as a simple road upgrade project with no regards for alternate forms of traffic that would decrease the traffic through the tunnel now and in the future nor for the viability of Metro Vancouver as a sustainable and green metropolis.

10. Additional Comments

Movement of Goods

This project does nothing for the movement of goods by truck.  Any scenario, except scenario 1, should include two-way separated truck lanes for improving trip time and removing truck exposure and delays from car collisions and traffic levels.

Separated Bus and HOV Lanes

For efficiency of the transit system, trip time, and attracting motorists to use transit, two-way separated bus lanes (which allow for passing of buses, which could include buses not operative due to mechanical breakdown) need to be part of any scenario other than scenario 1.  HOV traffic should not be allowed on separated bus lanes and a set of two-way separated HOV lanes should be provided, allowing for passing.

Light Rail, LRT, Rapid Transit, Commuter Trains, and High Speed Trains

Along the alignment within the right-of-way of Highway 99, the crossing of the Fraser River, crossing of intersections, from Bridgeport and right to the US Border, the highway design and reconstruction should include preparing for a fast speed rail track for passenger service between communities lying along the way in this part of Metro Vancouver and the Cascadia Region south of the US border.

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