I remember listening to the Meggs radio interview back in 2009, and then reading a few blog posts about the Georgia & Dunsmuir viaducts. My first instincts told me that this would be a popular project for those that have been directing the City of Vancouver's transportation program for the last little bit, once they were finished with the bike lanes.
The City's proclaimed transportation hierarchy is as follows:
4. Commercial Goods
5. Passenger vehicles
Removal of the viaducts would eventually drive down the number of car trips into downtown by wrecking havoc on all trips coming in from the east. But the alternate routes from the east simply could not handle the added load:
Cambie St. bridge is more of a north/south route, but does not connect well to those coming from 1st Avenue.
Quebec St. is a busy route, and impassable on any event day at BC Place or Rogers Arena (formerly GM Place).
Pender St. does not provide a good connection to East Van, as it ends prior to Clark Drive.
Hastings St. is an unsafe route due to the number of jaywalkers in the DTES.
Powell/Cordova is the last option, but the route is a single lane in either direction for stretches.
Those who use the argument that removing the viaducts would provide for additional park space and development opportunity have obviously missed a pretty big factor: Skytrain. Both Stadium/Chinatown and Main St stations are elevated stations. To realize the benefits of the removal of the viaducts, Translink would be required to put an underground connection between the two stations, which would be extremely cost prohibitive, due to the known contaminated soils in this area.
I am very curious to read the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts Study. Not sure when it will be released either.
Check this out: SFU City. SFU is hosting a forum entitled What's Up with the Viaducts? A Forum of Possibilities on April 7, 2011 at 7pm. Register here to attend.
Wanted to post a link to a blog post by Paul Hillsdon. He's been at it way longer than I have, and here are some of the options he presented in an open letter to Mayor Gregor after his election. It's completely pro-demolition, but I like how he has given much thought to the required alterations to downtown transportation.