A major transportation link, which officials say will help ease congestion in Richmond’s city centre, officially opens to commuters this weekend.
It’s estimated that approximately 17,000 vehicles could travel daily along the newly constructed River Parkway once it opens on Saturday, easing the burden on No. 3 Road, said Mayor Malcolm Brodie during a virtual opening ceremony on Thursday.
“Since I’ve been involved in civic life in the City of Richmond, we’ve always focused on the issue of traffic congestion in the city centre,” said Brodie. “When you have a growing city like Richmond, it’s an even harder problem to solve than usual.”
The arterial route runs along the old railway and spans the near one kilometre stretch between Gilbert and Cambie roads. The city purchased the railway corridor – which used to be a part of the inter-urban tram system – around the time of the Olympic Oval project, said Brodie.
“The financing for this project was obviously critically important,” said Brodie. “With that kind of big ticket item, there had to be a lot of cost-savings including the use of recycled concrete material for the fill.”
The project came in under its $13.2 million budget, according to the city.
River Parkway is comprised of two lanes for vehicles, plus protected bike lanes on each side and pedestrian walkways. New traffic signals, crosswalks at Leslie and Cambie roads, and LED streetlights have also been installed.
Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to access River Parkway via an off-street, multi-use pathway on the south side of Cambie Road, between River Road and No. 3 Road. The multi-use path also provides safe access to and from the Middle Arm Greenway and Aberdeen Canada Line Station.
Brodie said the future plan is to extend River Parkway to Capstan Way as the north Richmond area develops.
“At that time, there’ll be a four-lane arterial road with medians and turning lanes, treed boulevards and all that surrounds that,” he said.
TransLink contributed $2.55 million through its capital cost-share programs to help construct the cycling lanes and off-street multi-use pathway.
“I think (this project) will have a big impact to Richmond commuters,” said Jeff Busby, TransLink’s acting vice-president of engineering. “TransLink is pleased to support projects like the new River Parkway, which will make cycling and walking in Richmond safer and more comfortable.”
Traffic flow improvements were made to River Parkway at the existing intersection with Gilbert and River roads by eliminating the River Road connection next to the Dinsmore Bridge. For commuters travelling southbound over the Dinsmore Bridge onto Gilbert Road, there will now be a dedicated left turn lane onto River Parkway.
Because of these changes, when River Parkway opens on Saturday, there won’t be any through traffic from River Road to Gilbert Road, meaning all access to businesses will now be from Cambie Road. In the coming months, the city will construct a new cul-de-sac at the southwest end of River Road.
The infrastructure work will support the future development of the 15-hectare (37-acre) Lulu Island Waterfront Park, where River Road currently sits. Pre-planning of the park is expected to start as early as next year, according to the city, with detailed design by 2024.
Construction of River Parkway began in 2018, and was originally slated for completion in early 2020. However, the project was delayed due to revised BC Hydro timelines for completing the power connections to the new traffic signals.