PORT Metro Vancouver unveiled the first draft of its plans to re-engineer the Low Level Road Saturday, providing details that local residents have been clamouring to hear for more than eight months.
In conjunction with several agencies, including TransLink and the City of North Vancouver, the port aims to add rail capacity to feed the North Shore's booming terminals, improve road safety, reduce train noise and throw in a basket of other community amenities such as sections of the Spirit Trail.
In simple terms, the road is to be moved north to make more room for rail lines. Early plans also moved the road surface several metres uphill, potentially bringing noise, street lights and vehicles' emissions closer to residents on the South Slope.
A lack of detailed designs created significant mistrust among those residents last summer. Particularly at issue was how close the traffic would come to their sightlines and back yards.
At Saturday's open house, the port revealed that its plans for the street height gain were substantially reduced to slightly more than one metre at most intersections from the previous seven-to eightmetre rise. The port also committed to keeping truck traffic out of sight with a lower road surface and a noise barrier.
The port presented an animation of the proposed new road, which seemed to mollify many residents' concerns.
Moving the road will make space for two new storage rail lines, which will allow the port to reduce the need to divide incoming freight trains with cargo destined for Asia-bound ships. These additional rail lines and the closure of three at-grade crossings will, the port says, reduce the amount of train whistling and the amount of noisy shunting, both of which cause ongoing resident complaints.
The elevation of the road is only one of several issues to be solved. The bluff that would be largely destroyed by the road's construction is home to eagle nesting sites, and the port has committed to preserving these. Broader environmental studies, and managing both the light and sound from the road are all under review.
Details of the current plans are available at www.porttalk.com. There is another open house session at Ridgeway elementary on March 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.