How to design UBE as transit hostile as possible?

May 9, 2011

check Translink proposals B1 or B2

but first, some reports of the April 30th workshop (material and report can be found here),

The big Picture

Does New Westminster will accept the waterfront vision proposed by traffic engineers...Vancouver has said 'no thanks' 40 year ago

Translink tried to provide the bigger picture in which the United Boulevard Extension (UBE) takes relevance under a favorable light. Not surprisingly they had hard time to conceal the fact it calls for a 4 lanes freeway solution along the New Westminster waterfront, and that is not stranger to the fierce opposition of the New Westminster folks to the UBE [4].

Needless to say, Translik has been less than convincing at providing rational for the NFPR and impact of the UBE on New Westminster traffic and livalibility, and this opinion has been well reflected by the intervention of one participant which has been received by long and warm applause of the audience.

Not surprisingly, to support the “big picture”, Translink recommends some variation on option B

Option B family

Translink came with 3 variations B1, B2, and one curiously titled E3 based on the option B1

UBE extension Option B1 and B2

The option B1 highlights the fact that 2 4-lanes highways are merging in one, south of Braid street. When you question the consultants on hand about the congestion consequence of it, the answer is

the “model” said it works well

Sure, we believe that traffic engineers didn’t aim at creating congestion, but usually when you design a funnel like in option B1, it is typically what happens! why it will be not the case for UBE?

Transit in Option B family

Braid station is the natural skytrain station for the area, where buses connect…Option B prevents road access to UBE from braid station. plain in simple:

  • Efficient transit service to extended United boulevard is not possible

Why an agency which is also a transit agency even consider such transit hostile option is beyond comprehension.

Option E family

Translink proposes 2 options. The difference between them is just the alignment of the United Boulevard. Below 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 road alignment north of the Brunette river, as suggested in option F and G, but still multiply unecessarily the number of intersection on brunette

family E is dismissed by Translink and its consultant Delcan, because it “increases” the level of congestion. Why?

too closely spaced traffic signaled intersection on brunette avenue

So why not the option below?

Option G2

Option G2 is conceptually similar to option E2, except a redesign of he Brunette interchange ramps prevent the introduction of an extra intersection

the Delcan consultant on hand suggested that the traffic on hwy 1 east bound exit ramps could be too heavy to be handled by a single Hwy 1 east ramp exit like suggested in G2. There is no available number to back up this suggestion…and MOT seems to think otherwise, since the exit ramp suppression as presented in G2 is what it is suggesting too [1].

That said the option G2 is nothing else that the previously presented option G , but with a traditional intersection instead of a roundabout.

Why not a roundabout?

…Following my post about it, I was eager to get some feedback.

To this question I and others have raised with several representatives, the answer can be very variable according to the interlocutor on hand…

A Delcan representative noticing that the Province and ICBC push for more roundabouts, explains:

-“We have think of it for option E, but could need to be an elevated structure” [because the thinking is in the context of the intersection above a railyard as layed out in option E]
-yes but what about the roundabout at Brunette Interchange?
-It could need to be multi lanes! …people are not used to it !

A third party:

-“Brunette interchange is MOT juridiction, it will slow down the project!”

A Translink representative

-“people drive differently here, roundabout will not work”

I was pleased that the solution has been considered and the suggestion heard but the arguments opposed sounds to relate to what Jarret Walker (whose is currently consulting for Translink), call the lowest level of “spectrum of authorities”, that is:

  • My feeling says it will not work
  • Our feeling says it will not work
  • it will not work because our culture

multi-lane roundabout are popular all over Europe, now in Asia too…it is hard to grasp why they could not work in BC…since at the end of the day it is question of “geometry” and here lie probably the real reason why the roundabout solution is not considered favorably by Delcan/Translink.

The political (or psychological reason).

  • The Delcan team working on the UBE project could not have the expertise to design large roundabout…and they don’t want loose the project to another team or consultant [3]

but more importantly, and that is also why the more traditional option G2 is not even on the table:

  • Having the UBE extension encroaching the MOT juridiction could probably signify to Translink the lost of the project management to the Province ministry [2].

That means that to foster their interests (psychological reason), both Delcan and Translink teams could be willing to work at a substandard solution, even if that is done at the expense of the general public interest.

Let’shope it will be not the case…

[1] Brunette Avenue to North Road, fall 2010. the original design was including a fly-over, but the latest solution suggested by the MOT is the suppression plain and simple of one of the 2 Hwy ramp exits.

[2] As noticed in the letter ‘Road to the future is not the United Boulevard Extension of the NFPR‘ (New Westminster News leader, April 12th) , all non-road-building options have been dismissed for similar reason too.: Mr Zein, the road building engineer responsible of the project scope/definition is poised to be also the responsible for its construction too.

[3] Indeed, the roundabout design is a very important actor to its efficiency, and if somewhat North American roundabout are less efficient than european ones, it is not a question of driver but of design…and there is effectively only limited experience, and incidentally expertise, with large or interchange roundabout in North America.

[4] You will find some more elaborated thoughts on the challenges raised by a 4 lanes highway on the New Westminster Waterfront at GreenNewWest

4 Responses to “How to design UBE as transit hostile as possible?”

  1. Stephen Rees Says:

    ”people drive differently here, roundabout will not work”

    What nonsense. And clearly not something that ICBC believes given the number of roundabouts that have paid to install to reduce collisions and collision severities. Whoever said this is clearly ignorant of the data on modern roundabouts in North America.

    See my blog for more on roundabouts.

  2. Also not MoT’s position on multi-lane roundabouts:

  3. Voony Says:

    Thanks for the links.
    Stephen Rees mentions the local traffic engineer opinions on Roundabout in the post he has shared the link, and in fact it is effectively the feeling I got from the my discussion at the workshop.
    The Evans connector in Chilliwack is pretty interesting because it starts to be a sizeable application of Roundabout, and could match well to the UBE (for the layout if not the traffic volume to handle)..that said I am not sure about why all the distracting, if not confusing, horizontal markings: it looks they have tried to do a turbo roundabout like seen in Netherlands, but it is not, and the overall thing doesn’t looks very neat…that could be a typical example motivating the note [3]. That said it is good to see applications exist here.

  4. derp Says:

    Typo in the 1st photo caption

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