Pedestrians will no longer have to risk their lives crossing Stewardson Way by this time next year.
The federal and provincial governments announced this week that construction of a new multi-use Stewardson Way pedestrian/cyclist overpass will soon get underway. The new $5.1-million overpass will be located east of the Queensborough Bridge, where there is no pedestrian crosswalk.
Elmer Rudolph, president of the West End Residents’ Association, said an overpass is great news for residents on both sides of the street, who will have a safer and more convenient way to get to work, school and SkyTrain. Because there is no crosswalk in this area, he said residents have risked their lives to run across Stewardson Way.
“They run across six or eight lanes of traffic in the morning. They do it on a regular basis – I have seen them. They take their life in their hands. They have been running across there for 14 years. Luckily we have never had a fatality,” he said. “If it finally happens, we say hallelujah. It couldn’t come too soon.”
Rudolph said the West End Residents’ Association lobbied city council for years and never felt the city was very interested in the project.
“As far as we are concerned, it has been a long time coming,” he said. “We have been lobbying them since 2004.”
Prior to upgrades at the north end of the Queensborough Bridge in 2004, Rudolph said a pedestrian-activated crosswalk was located at Sixth Avenue and Stewardson Way.
“The ministry of highways said ‘we don’t want that anymore, that’s too disruptive to traffic’ so they took it out and ‘we will replace it with something,’” he said. “Well, they never did.”
According to a press release, the project is expected toget underway in January 2019 and be completed in the summer of 2019.
“Pedestrians and cyclists have been frustrated with the absence of a safe crossing on this stretch of Stewardson Way,” Claire Trevena, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said in a press release. “This project puts the safety of people first by separating pedestrians and cyclists from a busy street.”
The overpass is being built through the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, with the federal government providing 50 per cent of eligible costs, the provincial government providing 33 per cent and TransLink contributing 17 per cent.
“The Government of Canada recognizes that having accessible active transportation options is key to developing green inclusive communities,” François-Philippe Champagne, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, said in the press release. “We are proud to have helped make this new overpass possible, which will provide a safer route for pedestrians and cyclists across some of the city’s busiest roads, and encourage people to stay active while moving around the city.”
The overpass will improve access to Grimston Park, the 22nd Street transit exchange and the Millennium/Expo SkyTrain station.
“I know how important this new overpass is for our city, people need to be able to safely cross this busy road on foot or on a bike,” said New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy. “I am so pleased that our government is able to deliver this crossing, so pedestrians, cyclists and drivers can get to their destination safely.”
A decade ago, the federal and provincial governments jointed funded the $33-million interchange project on the north side of the Queensborough Bridge and on Highway 91A at Howes Street that was designed to improve the transportation of goods in the region.