As a resident living in Vancouver’s downtown peninsula, vehicle traffic can be the bane of one’s existence. Traveling in and out of the city on a daily basis requires navigating a congested maze replete with an obstacle course of traffic calming devices, cyclists, and spaced out pedestrians oblivious to the fact that their frail corpses are no match for a hunk of metal careening down the street.
Bound to elicit a variety of profanities and unnecessary redlining along a motorist’s journey, one of the worst gridlocks in North America with a 35% congestion rate challenges locals to summon their inner Mario Andretti and find the quickest and least obstructed thoroughfare in and out this sucker.
Coming off of the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge and taking the McGill exit, it is to much relief seeing the Powell Street Overpass finally opened to the 30,000 commuters that now travel through the corridor after being under construction for a year.
A $50 million road and rail infrastructure enhancement, Powell Street is a major northern arterial route between Clark Drive and Hawks Avenue into downtown Vancouver, and a much preferred alternate route to Hastings. It’s almost as though you’ve discovered a secret entrance to the city, although short lived as you continue into Gastown’s busy brick laden streets.
The new Powell Street Overpass recently opened on July 24, and has cantilevered lookouts, public art, and interpretive signage, providing somewhat of a tour of Vancouver’s industrial area. Cyclists and pedestrians are treated to wide bike lanes and sidewalks, however ending abruptly at Clark.
To the dismay of many a TransLink rider, the route is currently not opened to public transit, requiring buses to detour until September 1, as the corporation still has yet to install trolley wires.
For the time being, driving along Powell Street, all the while knowing nearly every other gateway into Vancouver is teeming with road rage, is a breath of semi-fresh air.
Check out the map below, courtesy of TransLink, to see real-time traffic levels based on cell phone GPS signals.