Rounding About United Boulevard

April 26, 2011

Translink came up with numerous new options for the United Boulevard Extension in New westminster BC…Basically none of them, expect may be one, sound acceptable…


You can claim explore lot of options, by coming with rendering like the above, but Translink should keep serious…. Patrick Jonhston at Greenwest did a review of all the options. Of it, it appears that the option E seems the less damageable, assuming we need to extend the United Boulevard to Brunette.

The apriori less damagable option is not free of flaw, it suppose an extended elevated way to cross large railway yard, and interfere with the Brunette interchange

Assuming option E is the best so far Translink has put on table and considering

  • it creates a new intersection in close vicinity of he Brunette interchange
  • It requires crossing extensive rail-yard

It is time for Translink to consider to merge the intersection with the Brunette interchange… and that is what roundabout are for. so below two options Translink should have put on the table but didn’t for unexplained reason.

Option F: roundabout interchange

In the concept above, taking less land than the current interchange, all traffic lights are removed

  • it is a free flow interchange.
  • It has higher capacity than the current interchange [5]

But it is also [5]

  • Safer than the current interchange which is one of the most accident prone intersection in Metro Vancouver [2]
  • providing traffic “passive” calming measure, since the traffic need to slowdown in all case (at the diference of traffic light which invite to speeding to catch them on green…and/or emergency breaking on Amber)

Not surprising, due to the above, the roundabout interchange has been overly developed in Europe in the last two decades, but you can see some in the USA too.

a 6 legs roundabout interchange (Porte de Vannes, Nantes, France) (photo Google satellite)

The concept above, while having a foot print smaller than the existing interchange, supposes the construction of 2 new curved overpasses on the Highway 1. It could be considered too costly…Let’s go to a simpler version of it:

Option G: “half” Dumbbell interchange

a roundabout on the south side of the brunette interchange, distribute all the traffic. The entry ramp on Hy 1 East bound pas below the UBE, where a bridge is anyway required to cross the railtrack

In the later concept, the roundabout size is limited by some constraints like the Brunette river, but still can offer a radius larger than the current exit ramps on Highway one. This “Dumbbell” interchange concept requiring less civil engineering is quite popular in Europe, but you don’t need to go that far to observe it:

  • Thought it is still not yet at par with the best European realization, the Blaine interchange on the I5 just south of the Border is probably one of the best example you can observe on the continent, and show encouraging move from the WSDOT. Why they have retrofitted the interchange like it?
“The roundabouts will help improve safety and mobility at the interchange for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists”.

Yes, roundabout do all of that, so why Translink suggests only inferior “old school” solution is a mistery.

The Province Agenda

The original design of the Brunette interchange was a 3 levels interchanges with a fly-over…that has obviously no place in an urban environment, but what can you expect from of our MOT [3]?

The initial design from the MOT for the brunette Interchange is ignoring the urban nature of the Brunette Avenue

The province could have hold-off on this insanity only due to the uncertainty involved by the United Boulevard Extension, which could be resolved and could try to achieve same goal [3] . But the project shows that for the province , when it is time to build roads, money is not an object, and very certainly the suggested design F and G presented here shows that you can achieve overall much better outcome that the disjointed approaches pursued on on side, by MOT, and the other, Translink…

…That is, it is time for Translink to become a bit more serious on its UBE concepts.

Translink is holding a workshop on Saturday, April 30, 2011, let them know what you think

[1] Washington State DOT, Blaine interchange

[2] Metro Vancouver’s most dangerous intersections, Chad Skelton, VancouverSun, September 12, 2010

[3] This video from the Gateway agency explain that the Brunette interchange improvement combined with the King Edward overpass are aimed to improve access to the United Boulevard.

[4] cap Horn and Brunette avenue Interchange Pre-Design Consultation. Port Mann brigde/ Highway 1

[5] numerous study support those assertions also stated in wikipedia. for North america, Roundabouts Increase Interchange Capacity, L. Ourston and G.A. hall


5 Responses to “Rounding About United Boulevard”

  1. Kyle Says:

    Finally, some actual innovation, nice work here! How is this going to be exposed to Translink?

  2. Harvey Says:

    Great work
    I will be there,
    and look forward to the presentation

  3. Andrew Says:

    A very interesting idea. This should of course be combined with closing the railway crossing at Braid and Brunnette so that only a T-intersection remains. There could further be an improved connection from the Brunette industrial area to United to access the proposed road.

    If TransLink is hell-bent on spending tax payer money on more roads, this solution is a low impact one. It does not increase the capacity for more traffic to enter New West, where there is no more room for more traffic. I’d rather see them spend the money on the Evergreen Line though, which is being delayed yet again…

  4. Voony Says:

    thanks for your kindly comments. I have submitted the idea to translink via the input feedback, but I guess one contribution is not enough, that is the reason of this post and also I should be at the workshop saturday too…and yes the suggestion is combined with closing the railway crossing at Braid and Brunnette…and for sure I am for to be convinced that the UBE is a wise use of our taxpayer $.

  5. […] is the option E2 which suggests a United boulevard alignment similar to the one originally proposed here. Not surprisingly we think it is the best one Translink has put forward so far Option E2 choose a […]

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