The B.C. government is moving forward with plans to explore a fixed-link rapid transit between downtown Vancouver and the North Shore.
The NDP government announced Thursday that it has hired international engineering firm Mott MacDonald Ltd. to study the feasibility of a high-capacity transit crossing from the Burrard Inlet to the North Shore.
The company has been tasked with looking at the possible options, be it a tunnel, a new bridge, or even a gondola service.
“Everything’s on the table,” said North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma, who chairs the Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project.
“This study is going to be the first comprehensive study into a rapid transit solution for the North Shore ever,” she added.
In 2018, the group recommended connecting central Lonsdale to the Vancouver core and the regional SkyTrain network as a key step to improving mobility in the region.
The North Shore bridges have routinely been the site of gridlocked traffic, despite efforts to improve emergency access and keep towing vehicles at the ready during peak hours.
“Many people spend a lot of time stuck in traffic when travelling to and from the North Shore,” TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said in a statement.
“This feasibility study will look at ways we can improve congestion, understand the gridlock and prepare for future growth.”
The study will consist of two phases, with the first exploring options to connect the North Shore to the region’s larger transit network. Once a short list of options is complete, the second phase will consist of a detailed engineering and planning review.
The study is expected to be completed next year.
Mayors on both sides of the inlet are urging the firm and the province to act as quickly as possible.
“A fixed link for rapid transit will take years to implement, so we need to start thinking about it now,” City of West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth said in a statement.
—With files from Ted Chernecki