Bridges, bicycle paths, roads and the way we get around in this city. Resident suggests we may not be getting it right.

Think about it this way:  if you happen to work mid-block in one of these islands and you want to run a quick errand that is only 300 meters away across the tracks, you’re faced with a decision: do you get in the car and drive 15 minutes, or do you take five minutes  to sneak across the tracks? What if you are one of the folks poorly served by transit and only have half an hour for your lunch? The decision is simple; look for a break in the fence.

So we’ve built our city a certain way, and this council didn’t create the problem, but also it has not addressed it either. One does not have to go back many years to find some monumental errors in judgement on this issue.

Traffic lined up at the Burloak rail crossing – dumb decision made by then Councillor Mike Wallace who is now our MP.

Burloak Drive, for example, has a history of poor planning dating back at least as far as the 1990’s  when then city Councillor Mike Wallace agreed to perhaps one of the worst pieces of road realignment ever, while leaving in place a level crossing on Burloak Drive.  But this council shares some blame, by choosing to build an underpass at King Road rather than one at Burloak Drive.

Creation of the King Road grade separation – resident thinks it might have been money poorly spent.

I can’t really fault Ward 1 Councillor Craven for fighting for his ward to get the King Road underpass built, that’s his job, and as a piece of engineering it was spectacular.  At a cost of $20 million why was King Road built before removing the level crossing at Burloak Drive?  I’ve yet to find traffic volume numbers for King Road, but according to 2012 traffic counts 6,000 vehicles per day use Burloak Drive, just slightly fewer than both Walkers and Guelph Lines.  King Road’s traffic numbers can’t be even close to this number of vehicles per day. The tragic derailment and the movement of the shunting yard to Aldershot likely played a part, but given the low traffic volumes, King Road should have been dead ended at the tracks at a likely cost of less than $20,000, rather than $20 million.

Burlington could have used King Road as an opportunity to show some innovation and vision. Burlington could have more wisely spent some of this $20 million building innovative pedestrian and cycling overpasses throughout the city. 

The experience of Glenwood Park residents and how hard they had to fight to have the Drury Lane Pedestrian bridge repaired it’s really not surprising this council has not decided to act in adding more pedestrian and cycle safe resources to cross the many impediments.

Repaired at a cost of $300,000 + the bridge restored a way in and out of the Queensway community for residents who are close to landlocked.  Driving in and out was thought to be the solution by some members of Council

A comment from Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman on the debate over what to do with the Drury Lane bridge that had to be closed for repairs, really gives one a peek at the prevailing attitude of council when he said: “There are different places across the city where we don’t provide that (a pedestrian bridge) and what do they do? They get in their car or they walk. By the way, if they walk, they get better exercise because they walk further.”

The Drury Lane pedestrian bridge was repaired at a cost of $350,339.00

Lack of leadership and vision concerning pedestrian and cycling bridges is not shared by every city.  New York with its amazing high line park that re-purposes an old elevated rail line into a walking path and park; Tel Aviv has planned the fascinating ECOtainer pedestrian bridge; fabricated from used shipping containers;  Calgary’s just finished large and sleek $5 million Shaganappi Trail pedestrian bridge, (over a road somewhat like a cross between the 403 and Dundas street). Closer to home, in 2007, Waterloo region opened a spectacular  a $1.7 million 101 metre long pedestrian bridge over highway 401. Burlington city council by contrast has priorities that are elsewhere.

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2 comments to Bridges, bicycle paths, roads and the way we get around in this city. Resident suggests we may not be getting it right.

  • Denise Davy

    Thanks to James Smith for this informative article.

  • M. Dennis

    Part of having a “complete community” is easy access from one location to another. We have not put enough effort into making the crossing of RR’s easy unless you are driving a car. More people want to walk/bicycle from one place to another and we are still planning around the automobile.
    Until we start “complete planning” there will be people willing to take the risk of crossing RR’s in dangerous places.