Wardance Bridge set to get reconfigured, 'less lethal'

Project will have impacts on traffic

More than two years after West Vancouver council agreed to help cover costs, the Welch Street Bridge is finally scheduled to get a little safer.

Formerly known as Wardance Bridge, the 44-year-old crossing connects Park Royal to North Vancouver through Squamish Nation land. Due to the bridge’s slender walkway, cycling advocate Peter Scholefield once dubbed the crossing the district’s “most dangerous roadway.”

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The reconfigured bridge is set to have a 3.5-metre pathway on its south side separated from cars by a concrete barrier.

The project, which includes a new right turn lane from Park Royal South toward Lions Gate Bridge, will likely begin in March, according to a release from Park Royal. Work is tentatively slated to wrap up by June 30, said West Vancouver Coun. Craig Cameron.

“We should have a less lethal path along the Spirit Trail,” he said.

The project will have “intermittent impacts on bridge traffic” and delays, according to Park Royal. Alternating traffic will be controlled by flaggers and signalization during construction. The bridge will also be closed for night work “on a few occasions.”

Cyclists will still be able to use the bridge but pedestrian access could be hampered late in the project, according to a release from Park Royal management.

Ten parking spots on the west side of the bridge are set to be turned into soft landscaping with a new sidewalk connecting pedestrians to the intersection. New lights will also be installed along the bridge to make it easier to see pedestrians and cyclists at night, according to the release.

West Vancouver council voted 6-1 to chip in $700,000 to reconfigure the bridge in December 2017 despite objections from then-councillor Christine Cassidy, who said Park Royal’s ownership of the bridge created an ethical quandary.

The Community Charter forbids municipalities from assisting a business. However, the partnering agreement essentially has Park Royal working on behalf of the community, according to district staff.

While Park Royal’s ownership was a bug for Cassidy, it was a feature for then-councillor and future Mayor Mary-Ann Booth.

“I don’t want to own assets. I like other people’s boats, I like other people’s cabins. I like other people’s stuff because I know what it costs to maintain an asset,” she said in 2017.

District staff initially reported that construction might begin in the spring of 2018. Representatives from Park Royal did not immediately respond to queries about the delay.

Work on the bridge will involve cutting down some trees adjacent to homes on Hiawatha Drive, according to Park Royal.

Signage identifying the river area as use for Squamish Nation Members only will be erected.

A prior plan to attach a cycling and pedestrian path to the bridge was scrapped after an analysis revealed the addition would put too much pressure on the bridge.

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© North Shore News

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